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

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

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.)

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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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