LATEST: Italy plans to extend state of emergency until January 2021

LATEST: Italy plans to extend state of emergency until January 2021
Pedetrians cross the street in Rome, near St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City. Photo: AFP
Italy's government plans to extend the current state of emergency triggered by the coronavirus crisis until next year, the prime minister said on Thursday.

Italy's state of emergency is set to expire on October 15th, but with the situation still volatile the government's scientific and technical committee has recommended that it be extended until January 31st.

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed the plans to journalists on Thursday morning, reportedly saying: “We will go to Parliament to ask for an extension of the state of emergency until January 31st.”

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If the extension is granted by parliament, it would mean Italy remains in a state of emergency for one year.

Conte first called the state of emergency on January 31st 2020, after two cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Rome, but before Italy's first Covid-19-related deaths

 
What does the state of emergency mean for people in Italy?
 
In Italy, the procedure – which has been used in the past after floods and earthquakes – helps to cut red tape and also hands regional authorities special powers.
 
The most important thing to know is that the state of emergency itself does not determine the emergency rules and restrictions. It's not the same thing as an emergency decree.
 
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte. Photo: AFP
 
While it sounds dramatic, the declaration of a state of emergency has a specific purpose.
 
It allows the Prime Minister to introduce, change, and revoke rules quickly, via emergency decrees, in response to the ever-changing epidemiological situation.
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The state of emergency effectively cuts through bureaucracy, as the introduction of these new rules and laws would otherwise require the usual lengthy parliamentary process.
 
It also gives greater powers to regional authorities, allowing them to introduce their own rules in response to infection rates locally.
 
 
Will there also be a new emergency decree?

It also allows regional authorities to bring in their own local rules aimed at containing the spread of the virus.

Italy’s current set of coronavirus rules, within the government’s emergency decree (DPCM), are up for review on October 7th – so before the state of emergency is set to expire.
 
It’s not known yet what ministers are planning, however as the number of new cases is now rising again here in Italy it’s thought unlikely that any rules will be relaxed.
 
What is the Covid-19 situation in Italy now?
 
The infection rate has been steadily rising in recent weeks, but remains relatively low and stable compared to many other European countries.
 
Authorities on Wednesday recorded 1,851 new cases in the last 24 hours, about 200 more than Tuesday's rise.
 
All regions recorded infections. Campania, once again, was worst hit with 287 new cases.
 
Hospitalisations continue to rise steadily, with 280 patients now in intensive care.
 
There were 19 deaths recorded on Wednesday, meaning the overall Italian death toll is now 35,894.
   

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