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HEALTH

Why lockdown rules aren’t always the same around Italy

As different Italian regions continue to enforce their own rules, we look at the various measures being taken, and why.

Why lockdown rules aren't always the same around Italy
Soldiers and police check travellers' documents at the Milan centrale train station on May 5th. Photo: AFP

Italy has been under national lockdown for almost two months, and you might think we should all know what the rules are by now.

But instead, confusion grows with every new emergency decree issued by the government.

As Italy entered phase two of its lockdown on Monday, May 4th, many people were still unclear about some of the changes to the rules following a somewhat vague announcement by the prime minister the previous Sunday.

While many people believed phase two meant an end to the lockdown, it is in fact only a slight easing of some of the rules. Many tight restrictions still remain, and this new phase is in many ways stricter than the initial lockdowns imposed by many Western countries.

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Trying to find out what exactly had changed and what hadn't was made still harder by the fact that Italy's regional governments are adapting the national rules and bringing in their own additional measures on top.

As Italy adjusts to phase two, the staggered reopening has been complicated by the highly decentralised government system which allows the country's 20 regions to layer on their own rules.

Veneto and Calabria have thus been serving food and drink at bars and restaurants with outdoor seating since last week.
 
The area around Genoa is thinking of reopening its beaches. Neighbouring Emilia-Romagna is keeping them closed – even to those who live by the sea.
 
And fines for breaking the rules range from a maximum of 3,000 euros in most places to 5,000 in Lombardy.
 
Such regional differences in the rules have been cause for confusion throughout the lockdown.
 
As the crisis first began to unfold, Italy's national and regional governments make one new announcement after another, bringing in a raft of new laws in attempts to stop the spread of the coronavirus across the country.

The raft of new rules and regulations in each region became even more complex after a new decree in late March made it easier for regional governments to bring in their own rules.

Meanwhile, the Italian government repeatedly tightened the regulations since they were first announced on March 10th, before loosening them slightly on May 4th.

While trying to keep up with these rule changes, Italy's residents have also had to keep track of what their regional and city authorities are doing.

READ ALSO: Why the partial end of Italy's lockdown isn't as good as you'd imagine

 

Tuscany has relatively relaxed regulations under phase two, easing some restrictions further than recommended by the national government. Find the region's latest ordinance here.

Meanwhile many parts of the south, including Puglia and Molise, have imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine rule for anyone entering the region, amid fears of an influx from the worst-hit northern areas after the national ban on travelling between regions to return home was lifted.

Lombardy, the region bearing the brunt of Italy's coronavirus emergency, has long had the toughest rules in place. Here are their latest offical updates.

Piedmont, the third-worst affected region after Emilia Romagna, has adopted many of the same measures as Lombardy. Find the region's latest ordinance here.
 
Local mayors have also been imposing extra restrictions. For example, some towns and cities have opted to keep parks closed under phase two, despite the national government allowing them to reopen.
 
Check the website of your local comune and regione for the latest updates to the quarantine rules where you are.
 

 

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COVID-19 RULES

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

The health ministry is reviewing its quarantine requirements as the country's Covid-19 health situation improved again this week, according to Italian media reports.

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

Italy has taken a more cautious approach to Covid in recent months than many of its European neighbours, keeping strict isolation rules in place for anyone who tests positive for the virus.

But this could be set to change in the coming days, according to media reports, as one of Italy’s deputy health ministers said the government is about to cut the isolation period for asymptomatic cases.

“Certainly in the next few days there will be a reduction in isolation for those who are positive but have no symptoms,” Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa said in a TV interview on the political talk show Agorà on Tuesday.

“We have to manage to live with the virus,” he said.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reported that the compulsory isolation period could be reduced to 48 hours for those who test positive but remain asymptomatic – provided they subsequently test negative after the day two mark.

Under Italy’s current rules, vaccinated people who test positive must stay in isolation for at least seven days, and unvaccinated people for ten days – regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

At the end of the isolation period, the patient has to take another test to exit quarantine. Those who test negative are free to leave; those who remain positive must stay in isolation until they get a negative test result, up to a maximum of 21 days in total (at which point it doesn’t matter what the test result says).

Health ministry sources indicated the new rules would cut the maximum quarantine period to 15 or even 10 days for people who continue to test positive after the initial isolation period is up, La Stampa said.

The government is believed to be reviewing the rules as the latest official data showed Covid infection and hospitalisation rates were slowing again this week, as the current wave of contagions appeared to have peaked in mid-July.

However, the national Rt number (which shows the rate of transmission) remained above the epidemic threshold, and the number of fatalities continued to rise.

The proposed changes still aren’t lenient enough for some parties. Regional authorities have been pushing for an end to quarantine altogether, even for people who are actively positive – an idea Costa appears sympathetic to.

“The next step I think is to consider the idea of even eliminating the quarantine, perhaps by wearing a mask and therefore being able to go to work,” he told reporters.

“We must review the criteria for isolation, to avoid blocking the country again”.

At least one health expert, however, was unenthusiastic about the proposal.

Dr Nino Cartabellotta, head of Italy’s evidence-based medicine group Gimbe, tweeted on Tuesday: “There are currently no epidemiological or public health reasons to abolish the isolation of Covid-19 positives”

Massimo Andreoni, professor of Infectious Diseases at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Tor Vergata University of Rome, was more ambivalent about the prospect.

The isolation requirement for asymptomatic cases should be “revised somewhat in the light of the epidemiological data”, he told reporters, but urged “a minimum of precaution, because the less the virus circulates and the fewer severe cases there are, the fewer new variants arise”.

When the question was last raised at the end of June, Health Minister Roberto Speranza was firmly against the idea of lifting quarantine requirements for people who were Covid positive.

“At the moment such a thing is not in question,” he told newspaper La Repubblica at the time. “Anyone who is infected must stay at home.”

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