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Will Italy’s food shops and supermarkets be closed over Easter?

With only the most essential businesses still running in Italy under lockdown, how will the Easter holidays affect their opening hours? Here's what you need to know.

Will Italy's food shops and supermarkets be closed over Easter?
Shoppers at a supermarket in northern Italy. Photo: AFP

On major holidays such as Easter and Christmas, much of Italy usually grinds to halt and most shops are closed. But with lockdown measures in place, many people are concerned about whether they'll be able to get essential supplies over the upcoming Easter holidays.

Depending on which part of Italy you live in, these shops may not be open this weekend.

Photo: AFP

When announcing, and repeatedly tightening, national lockdown measures the Italian government “guaranteed” that food shops and pharmacies would remain open as usual.

The government last month also gave more powers to regional and local authorities to make their own quarantine rules, on top of those in force nationally. Some areas have restricted the opening hours of supermarkets, particularly on weekends.

READ ALSO: Why the coronavirus quarantine rules aren't always the same around Italy

Many supermarkets and pharmacies are usually closed on Sundays and holidays anyway meaning this doesn't make a big difference in most areas.

As the Easter holidays approach, local authorities around the country have declared that supermarkets must close for pasqua (Easter Sunday) and pasquetta (Easter Monday), saying the closures will prevent crowds and allow supermarket workers to rest.

After signing an order closing supermarkets over Easter in the southern city of Bari, mayor Antonio Decaro told local media it was due to “the foreseeable and uncontrolled flow of people to shops during the holidays.”

“It is not necessary to shop every day, just as it is not necessary to do so during the holidays.”

“It's sad to think of the Easter holidays without a family lunch or picnic, but this is a moment of responsibility,” he said, adding that he hoped supermarket workers  “who have not stopped for one day in recent weeks” would be “able to relax and spend time at home with loved ones.”

READ ALSO: 'We're stressed out': Supermarket workers in Italy fear exposure to coronavirus

Pharmacies would be allowed to open as usual, he said.

The Abruzzo region is reportedly preparing to order supermarkets to close for the entire Easter weekend, following pressure from unions representing supermarket workers.

And supermarkets will be closed on Easter Monday across Sicily after unions wrote to the regional governor, stating that “having to work on Easter Monday in the midst of a health emergency” would be “an unjustified sacrifice.”

Churches are to remain closed across the country over the Easter holidays.

Check the latest updates from your local and regional authorities for further information on closures in your area.

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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].”