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HEALTH

UPDATE: What will Italy’s latest Covid-19 emergency decree change?

The Italian government is reviewing the current measures intended to stem the spread of Covid-19 with a new decree due in the coming days. Here’s what we can expect. (This article was updated on October 12th)

UPDATE: What will Italy's latest Covid-19 emergency decree change?

*Note: This article is now out of date. Please see here for the most recent update.*

The Italian parliament was set to approve the latest emergency decree on Wednesday October 7th, but ministers now have until October 15th to approve the full set of rules.

Italian PM Giuseppe Conte on Monday morning confirmed to reporters that the decree could be ready as soon as Monday evening.

The new measures are widely expected to be tougher than were originally set in a draft seen last week, as cases have risen sharply since.

Italy’s daily infections surpassed 5,000 in recent days for the first time since March.

IN MAPS: Where and how coronavirus cases are rising in Italy

Parliament on Wednesday did however approve a separate decree with a requirement for masks to be worn in public places – indoors and outdoors – at all times.

While the final text of the October decree has not yet been published, and may now be adjusted before October 15th, here's a look at what is expected to be included in the new decree.

Ban on parties

Health minister Roberto Speranza said on Sunday night that he had proposed a nationwide ban on parties, including gatherings on private property, saying this was needed to keep schools open due to the high number of transmissions between family members.

“Parties will not only be banned for kids, but for everyone,” he said on Italy's Rai TV channel. “We need to send a very clear message.”

“I'm convinced that the vast majority of people will follow the instructions contained in an emergency decree.”While it is unclear how such a measure could be enforced, Speranza added: “When there is a rule, Italians have shown that they respect it and that they don't need a policeman to monitor them.”

Ban on amateur contact sports

The government is also believed to be debating a ban on amateur contact sports, including five-a-side football, according to reports in Italian media.

Quarantine may be reduced to ten days

The government's scientific advisory panel has reportedly recommended that the mandatory quarantine period be cut from 14 days to ten, news agency Ansa reports.

Rapid coronavirus tests may also be carried out by GPs at doctors' surgeries within the nxt few weeks, ministers said on Monday. Currently you need to get a referral from your doctor to take a test at an approved local clinic or testing centre.

Restaurant curfew?

Last week, a suggested nationwide limit on the opening times of bars and restaurants was ruled out.

However local and regional authorities may order local curfews if deemed necessary.

City authorities in Rome, for example, are expected to introduce measures reducing opening hours for bars and restaurants, Ansa reports.

Photo: AFP
 
Local lockdowns?
 
The new decree is expected to set out guidelines for local authorities which deem it necessary to bring in a localised lockdown if outbreaks become difficult to control in a particular area.
 
Ministers have previously said that another national lockdown like the one that began in March will not be necessary. Italian PM Giuseppe Conte last week said he “doesn't see a lockdown on the horizon.”
 
 
Italy's regional governments have been able to implement their own rules modifying the national measures, as the country's current state of emergency gives extra powers to the regions.
 
Under the latest decree these powers are set to be curtailed and regions will only b able to adopt stricter, not softer, rules.
 
They'll only be allowed to relax certain anti-contagion measures after obtaining permission from the government's technical-scientific committee (CTS), the panel of scientific experts which advises the government.

 

What stays the same:
 
Businesses are not expected to be shut down.
 
The draft decree text reportedly allows for “selective” closures of businesses – including bars and restaurants – if there is an “adverse” situation regarding infections locally.
 
Cinemas, theatres and concert venues are expected to be allowed to remain open. Italy's culture minister said they can continue to allow up to 200 spectators per performance indoors, and 1,000 outdoors.
 
Discos are set to remain closed.
 
 
The number of spectators allowed at sporting events is to remain unchanged at 1,000.
 
Safety measures on planes, trains and ships are set to remain in place, and local public transport will continue to run at 80 percent of maximum capacity.
 
Schools are expected to remain open, with rules unchanged, as the head of Italy's Higher Health Institute on Wednesday said infection rates in schools were “highly limited” and “the protocols are working”.
 
The current requirements on social distancing and regular handwashing reman unchanged.
 
People are instructed to keep a distance of one metre from others at all times, and anyone who with a temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius is obliged to stay at home.
 
 
Tighter rules on wearing masks
 
The Italian government has already introduced rules making it obligatory to wear a mask at all times when out of the house, and introduces fines of 400-1,000 euros for anyone refusing to wear a mask when required. Previously the maximum fine was 400 euros.
 
Masks must be worn at all times when out of the house and around people you do not live with, including in workplaces. Previously there was no blanket rule on this for all workplaces.
 
The only exemptions are for children under six, people who are exercising alone, and those with certain disabilities.
 
Anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19 but doesn't follow quarantine rules could be fined a minimum of 500 euros and could even face a prison term of 3 to 18 months under the new decree, Italian media reports

 
For more information about the Covid-19 situation in Italy, see the health ministry’s website.
 
You can follow all of The Local's reporting on coronavirus in Italy here.

Member comments

  1. I have a specific question open to all your reader views! I cannot find any definite information on wether my fiancee will be allowed to enter Italy to be with me, she is Ukrainian from Odesa, a town and country that doesn’t get mentioned in any rule restrictions? Not EU not schengen as far as I can make out if she was to turn up in either Milan or Rome with a valid passport letter of invitation a return open ticket money in the bank a
    Cvid disclaimer a negative covid test and was picked up by me in a private car to isolate for two weeks in my house would she gain entry? The truth is no body seems have a yes or no answer I would be grateful for more input from your readers?
    Kind regards to all!

  2. Mark, you said no body seems to have an answer for you, so forgive me for stating the obvious, as I’ve no idea if you’ve already done this.
    1. Has your fiancée contacted the Italian Consulate in the Ukraine or Odesa to ask for this information?
    2. Have you been to the border yourself to see exactly what they require from people entering Italy?
    As far as I know, as long as she has a negative CV19 test, she’ll be allowed in.
    3. Contact “The Local” directly, they normally do help with these type of queries.
    Good luck.

  3. I will be flying to Sicily on 14th October for 4 nights from UK. I have registered, but not ‘checked in’ yet, required in Catania airport. I am wondering if I should try to obtain a private CV test in UK before depature (£150), do you think this is the best ? Or should I wait until I arrive ? Is it possible that the new decree is effective 15 or 16 Oct., so will not need to be tested, as I arrived under the ‘old’ decree ? Or will they chase me down and ask me to get a test ? Will there be quick (free?) testing in Catania airport ? Or in the city ? Or need to wait and see ? Sorry, so many questions. Please advise.

  4. David, all i know is the testing of all persons arriving from the UK has already been enforce for a several days now.

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HEALTH

Living in Italy: Five tips to help you survive the local pharmacy

From ear piercings to flu jabs, Italian ‘farmacie’ are among the most useful stores in the country, but they’re also very odd places. Here are our tips on getting through the pharmacy experience.

Living in Italy: Five tips to help you survive the local pharmacy

Italian pharmacies aren’t just stores selling prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

As a customer, you’ll find all sorts of natural remedies, basic health supplies and personal care items on their shelves. 

You’ll also be able to receive basic medical services (for instance, blood pressure checks, Covid tests and flu jabs) and some non-health-related ones (like getting your ears pierced!) in most branches. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I still get the flu vaccine in Italy? 

But, while being extremely useful stores, Italian farmacie (pronunciation available here) are also peculiar places and their set of unwritten rules and solidified traditions may well throw off newcomers.. 

So here are five tips that might help you complete your first expeditions to your local pharmacy without making a fool of yourself.

1 – Decipher your doctor’s scribbles before your trip

Much like some of their foreign colleagues, Italian GPs have a penchant for writing prescriptions that no one else is actually able to read. 

We might never find out why doctors seem so intent on making ancient hieroglyphs fashionable again, but their calligraphic efforts will surely get in the way of you trying to buy whatever medicine you need to survive. 

To avoid hiccups, make sure you know exactly what you need to get. If in doubt, reach out to your GP to confirm.

Don’t rely on pharmacists being able to figure out your doctor’s handwriting because they often have no clue either.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to make a doctor’s appointment in Italy 

Pharmacy in Codogno, near Milan

In most small towns and rural areas local pharmacies have very ‘thin’ opening hours. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

2 – Double-check the pharmacy’s opening times

If you’re from the UK or the US, you might be used to pharmacies being open from 8am to 10pm on weekdays and having slightly reduced opening times over the weekend. 

You can forget about that in Italy. In big cities, most pharmacies will shut no later than 8pm on weekdays and will be closed on either Saturdays or Sundays.

READ ALSO: Coughs, colds and flu: What to say and do if you fall sick in Italy 

As for small towns or villages, opening times will have a nice Middle Ages vibe to them, with local stores remaining shut on weekends and keeping their doors open from 9am to 12.30pm and then from 3.30pm to 7.30pm on weekdays. 

So always check your local pharmacy’s hours before leaving home and, should their times not be available online, call them up. An awkward phone conversation with the pharmacist is still preferable to a wasted trip.

3 – Get the ‘numerino

Some Italian pharmacies have a ticket-dispensing machine with the aim of regulating the queue – a concept which is still foreign to many across the country.

All customers are expected to get a numbered paper ticket (the famed ‘numerino’) from the above machine and wait for their number to be called to walk up to the pharmacist’s desk. 

Now, the law of the land categorically prohibits customers from getting within a five-metre radius of the desk without a numerino

Also, trying to break that rule may result in a number of disdainful sideways glances from local customers.

4 – You cannot escape the in-store conversations, so embrace them 

Pharmacies aren’t just stores. They’re a cornerstone of Italian life and locals do a good deal of socialising on the premises. 

After all, the waiting times are often a bit dispiriting, so how can you blame them for killing the time?

Small pharmacy in Italy

Pharmacies are an essential part of Italian life and culture. Photo by Marco SABADIN / AFP

You might think that locals won’t want to talk to you because you’re a foreigner or don’t know the language too well, but you’ll marvel at how chatty some are.

While chit-chat might not be your cup of tea, talking with locals might help you improve your Italian, so it’s worth a shot.

5 – “Vuoi scaricarlo?”

The pharmacist finally gets you what you need and you’re now thinking that your mission is over. Well, not yet.

Before charging you for the items in question, the pharmacist will ask you whether you’d like to ‘scaricarli’ (literally, ‘offload them’) or not, which, no matter how good your Italian is, will not make any sense to you.

What the pharmacist is actually asking you is whether you want to link the purchase to your codice fiscale (tax code). 

READ ALSO: Codice fiscale: How to get your Italian tax code (and why you need one)   

That’s because Italy offers residents a 19-percent discount on some health-related expenses, which can be claimed through one’s annual income declaration (dichiarazione dei redditi) by attaching the receipts of all the eligible payments.

Whether you want to scaricare or not, this is the last obstacle before you can make your way back home.

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