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HEALTH

Italy announces fines of up to €3,000 for breaking quarantine rules

Here's what Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced in his latest live-streamed address on Tuesday night.

Italy announces fines of up to €3,000 for breaking quarantine rules
Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The most important point in his speech was the announcement of bigger fines for quarantine rule-breakers, with anyone found out on the streets without a legitimate reason to face fines up to a maximum of 3,000 euros.

From Wednesday, the penalty will go up from the current 206 euros to 400-3,000 euros, Conte stated in a speech streamed online and televised on Tuesday night.
 
“Everyone must do their part,” Conte said.
 
He denied reports earlier today in Italian media that the decree would allow police to confiscate cars and other vehicles, and stressed that “the food supply chain and fuel will always be guaranteed.”
 
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Photo: AFP
 
Conte added that he was “very confident” that Italians could resume their normal lives before the current general state of emergency expires on July 31.
 
“The state of emergency for six months does not mean restrictions last until July 31st,” he said. “We are ready to loosen the measures at any moment, we hope very soon”.
 
Though the premier said last Thursday that the quarantine period “will be extended” beyond the original deadline of April 3rd, no further details have yet been given.
 
The latest decree also makes it easier for regional governments to bring in their own, stricter rules – as many have already done.
 
“Governors can adopt more restrictive measures. But the coordination function remains with the government”
 
His announcement came shortly after Italy's Civil Protection Department released figures showing that the death toll had shot up once again on Tuesday, after a two-day decline in numbers gave hope that the epidemic may be slowing in the country.
 
While the death toll rose to 743 – up from 601 on Monday – data also showed that the number of infections had fallen slightly.
 
The head of the Civil Protection Department, Angelo Borrelli, warned earlier on Tuesday that the real number of infections could be ten times higher then the number detected.
 
The world is watching closely for a sign of hope from Italy, where more than 6,000 people have died during the coronavirus outbreak so far.
 
The data from Italy's regions is of crucial interest to global policy makers and medical experts, watching keenly for signs that strict national quarantine measures imposed two weeks ago have worked.

The latest decree also makes it easier for regional governments to bring in their own, stricter rules – as many have already done.

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COVID-19

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].”

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