No jogging, no hotels, no long dog walks: Lombardy’s new quarantine rules

Lombardy, the region bearing the brunt of Italy's coronavirus emergency, has tightened its restrictions on travel and public gatherings even further in a bid to crack down on those abusing the rules.

No jogging, no hotels, no long dog walks: Lombardy's new quarantine rules
People travelling on Milan's metro have to keep at least a metre apart. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Since March 22, Lombardy residents can no longer exercise outside or walk their dogs more than 200 metres from their house.

Lombardy has been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic longer and harder than any other part of Italy, accounting for around 50 percent of the country's more than 59,000 cases since the outbreak began.

It was the first region to put multiple towns under quarantine, measures that were extended over the entire region before eventually being rolled out nationwide. 

UPDATED: What are Italy's tightened coronavirus quarantine rules?

But reports indicated that some continued to abuse the rules, with data collected by the authorities from mobile phone companies suggesting that as many as 40 percent of Lombardy residents continued to travel more than 300 metres from their homes. 

On Saturday the regional president, Attilio Fontana, who has pushed for tough restrictions across Italy, signed an ordinance bringing into force the strictest lockdown rules yet to apply to an entire region.

“This is the most restrictive ordinance that regional powers allow us to issue – we can't do more than this,” said Fontana.

“We did it with the conviction that it was necessary, the only way is to make people understand that they have to stay at home.”

'Stay at home': a message to the public in Milan. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Effective from March 22 until at least April 15, Lombardy's new rules include:

No more sport outside

You can no longer go for a walk, run, bike ride or any other form of exercise in public, even by yourself. (You can continue to exercise in your garden, if you're lucky enough to have one.)

Fines of up to €5,000

Anyone caught breaking the ban on “public gatherings” – defined as more than two people together in public – risks a fine of up to €5,000, nearly 25 times the €206 fine applicable in the rest of Italy.

Short dog walks only

Anyone taking their pet out must carry a justification form and is forbidden from straying more than 200 metres from their home.

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

No visits to your second home

Residents are expressly forbidden from staying anywhere other than their main residence, including any other properties they may own.

Hotels to close

All tourist accommodation, including hotels, Airbnbs and agriturismo farm stays, must close and guests should leave within 72 hours (so by the end of Tuesday, March 24). 

However, those in the following circumstances will be allowed to stay:

  • Visitors forced to extend their stay because of unavoidable difficulties that prevent them travelling home; 
  • People who work in an essential industry and are away from home because of their job;
  • People who are caring for somebody who's sick;
  • People who are registered as residents of the accommodation or who are on duty there.

University dormitories, homeless shelters and accommodation managed by religious orders are not subject to the restrictions.

One person per family at the shops

Only one person per household at a time will be allowed to enter shops, unless you can prove that you need assistance from a second member of your family.

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

No more vending machines

Vending machines selling food and drink are no longer allowed to operate.

Building work halted

All construction work is suspended unless it's to build or maintain vital infrastructure, or to repair a structure that poses a risk to public safety.

Only essential businesses open

Like in the rest of Italy, only essential shops – supermarkets, pharmacies and newsagents – remain open.

READ ALSO: Here are the businesses that can stay open under Italy's latest quarantine rules

But while the national government's list of indispensable industries is fairly long, Lombardy has limited it further, notably ordering engineers, architects, notaries and other “professional offices” to shut. 

Extra temperature checks

Lombardy's ordinance recommends systematically checking the temperature of people working in key sectors, such as factory workers and supermarket cashiers, as well as their customers.

It also encourages police to take the temperature of anyone they stop in public.

You can find the full ordinance online here (in Italian).

Lombardy is not alone in introducing tougher local restrictions: Piedmont, the third-worst affected region after Emilia Romagna, last weekend adopted many of the same measures as Lombardy – with the notable exception that outdoor exercise remains allowed. (Find Piedmont's latest quarantine rules here.)

All regional governments and local mayors have the authority to impose extra restrictions on top of the ones ordered nationwide. Check the website of your local comune or region for the latest quarantine rules that apply where you are.

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Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”