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HEALTH

What are Italy’s new rules on going to the gym or pool?

As sports centres begin reopening in Italy, here are the coronavirus safety guidelines you'll need to follow while you exercise.

What are Italy's new rules on going to the gym or pool?
People exercising at a gym in Rome on May 25th. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Gyms and swimming pools in most parts of Italy were allowed to reopen from May 25th, though some regions and municipalities have opted to keep them closed for longer.

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

According to guidelines developed by the Ministry of Sport with health officials and medical specialists, from now on visiting a sports centre will involve taking a number of precautions, including wearing a face mask and arriving dressed in your exercise clothes.

Here are the protocols the government has instructed sports centres to follow:

  • Reduce the number of people allowed to enter at once, for example by requiring a reservation.
  • Clean communal spaces and equipment after each use. 
  • Equip staff with face masks and gloves.
  • Provide hand-washing facilities and sanitizer gel.
  • Mark individual training stations and a clear one-way route around the facilities.
  • Allocate designated bins for face masks and tissues.
  • Limit access to locker rooms and showers to avoid crowding.
  • Swimming pools must place deckchairs at least 1.5 metres apart.

Sports centres may also take precautions such as measuring users' temperature and logging when they attended for contact tracing purposes, while certain facilities such as saunas may remain closed off.

Meanwhile here's what the government is advising individuals to do when they visit their gym or pool:

  • Disinfect hands upon entering and before exiting.
  • Wear a face mask in shared spaces, though you can take it off while exercising or showering.
  • Keep at least 2 metres away from others while exercising, and 1 metre at all other times. Swimmers are supposed to be surrounded by 7 square metres of space in the water.
  • Arrive dressed in your workout clothes and place belongings inside a bag, including if you leave them in a locker.
  • After exercising, immediately put dirty clothes into a bag and take home to be washed separately from the rest of your laundry.
  • Bring your own water bottle or drink from a disposable cup.
  • Sanitize personal items or equipment that you bring into shared spaces, such as phones or your own mat or weights, and don't share them with anyone else.
  • Bring sealable bags in which to throw away masks and tissues.
  • Avoid using shared hairdryers.

The government has also urged gyms to encourage “remote training” where possible, offering exercise classes and consultations online instead of in person.

While matches and competitions remain banned, sports teams are allowed to begin training together again.

The government has set additional guidelines for team sports such as football and basketball, including requiring each player to sign a form certifying they're coronavirus-free.


Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Exercising outdoors, such as jogging or cycling, is no longer limited since the government dropped its order to remain within a block of your own home.

Parks have also reopened, while you're free to travel within your own region to exercise on the nearest beach or mountains.

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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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