What are Italy’s new rules on going to bars and restaurants in phase two?

Masks, social distancing, and even a self-certification form could be necessary next time you go out for a meal in Italy. Here's what we know so far.

What are Italy's new rules on going to bars and restaurants in phase two?
Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The Italian government said on Monday that bars and restaurants will be allowed to open again from Monday, May 18th – two weeks earlier than was scheduled under the planned gradual easing of rules under lockdown phase two.

CALENDAR: What will Italy reopen first under new lockdown rules?

But will going to your favourite bar for a cappuccino and cornetto ever be quite the same again? Will a meal at the local trattoria still be an enjoyable experience? Many of the rules and restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus still remain in place.

Reopenings are subject to approval by authorities in each of the country's 20 regions, and regional variations mean the rules will no doubt differ from one part of Italy to another.

But here's a look at what we can expect to see when we next sit down at our favourite osteria or pizzeria from May 18th.

An official document was released on Tuesday setting out guidelines from the Higher Health Institute (ISS) and Inail, the national workplace accident insurance institute. (You can see the entire document in Italian here.)


The finalised reopening rules will depend on local legislation in each region. But so far, here's what we can expect:

  • Advance reservations will be required to prevent crowds.

  • Masks may need to be worn at the cash register or when in line, and when you go to the bathroom

  • Customers will have to maintain enough distance to avoid transmitting infections – though it's not clear exactly what that distance is, or how this will be enforced.

  • Tables will need to be spaced at least two metres apart (previous reports said it could be as much as four metres), though this is still being debated.

  • Any establishment smaller than 25 square metres will only be able to allow one customer at a time inside.

  • no buffets will be allowed

  • restaurants have to ensure there's adequate ventilation in dining areas

  • In some areas (such as Veneto, which has a more robust track-and trace system), you may need to declare (via a self-certification form) your relationship to any person you're dining with, to help restaurant owners comply with regulations.

Business owners will be expected to enforce these safety measures, and police will be visiting to check the rules are being followed. 

The government can intervene and enforce tougher restrictions if there's an increase in contagion following the loosening of the rules.

You can find all of our reporting on the coronavirus crisis in Italy here.

Restaurant owners in Milan take part in a protest against prolonged restaurant closures on May 6th. Photo: AFP

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”