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‘Half a million jobs’ expected to be lost in Italy to the coronavirus crisis

The Covid-19 crisis in Italy will lead to the loss of 500,000 jobs in 2020, government employment policy agency Anpal said on Tuesday.

'Half a million jobs' expected to be lost in Italy to the coronavirus crisis
People wait at a food bank run by Italian Catholic charity Caritas in Milan on April 30th. Photo: AFP

With the Italian economy hit hard by the coronavirus shutdown, and Italy's GDP set to drop by eight percent in 2020, the next few years look bleak for a country which was already struggling with high levels of unemployment and poverty.

Anpal, the Italian government's National Agency for Active Labor Policies, estimates that half a million jobs will be lost in the country this year.

“We can expect a loss of 500,000 jobs in 2020 and a partial recovery in 2021, with a negative balance of 250,000 jobs,” Anpal's President, Mimmo Parisi, told the Italian Senate's Labour Commission on Thursday,

He said Anpal's “optimistic forecast” predicted a slow recovery, with a “return to pre-crisis levels only in 2023.”

Before the coronavirus crisis, Italy was still feeling the impact of the 2008 financial crash. The national unemployment rate had been hovering at around nine percent.

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Another one million people will have to turn to food banks and charities for help as a result of losing their jobs to the shutdown, Agricultural group Coldiretti has estimated.

When Italy's nationwide lockdown began in early March, some 11.5 million people – around half of the official Italian workforce – lost work or had their incomes slashed, and had to apply for government aid.

Italy's large unofficial workforce was also hit hard. National statistics bureau ISTAT estimates that some 3.5 million people had been working in the country's “shadow” economy, meaning they were unable to apply for any official help, and were left with nothing until further state aid for undeclared workers was announced in mid-May.

With criminal organisations reportedly swooping in to fill gaps left by the state, there are fears that Italy's mafia are poised to further exploit the desperation caused by the crisis.

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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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