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HEALTH

Covid-19: Italian province goes into 14-day local ‘lockdown’ after spike in cases

The province of Latina near Rome will be under special restrictions for 14 days from midnight on Thursday as the number of new cases in the area continues to rise sharply.

Covid-19: Italian province goes into 14-day local 'lockdown' after spike in cases
Restaurants and bars will face new restrictions in Latina, Lazio, from Friday. File photo: AFP
The province of Latina, south of the capital, has become the first part of Italy to be put under special measures since Italy began to ease its general lockdown  back in May.
 
Lazio’s regional president Nicola Zingaretti signed a local ordinance ordering a 14-day lockdown for the province after numbers rose sharply again locally, health authorities announced on Thursday evening.
 
“Taking into account the 155% increase in cases recorded since October 4th, the President’s ordinance was signed today which, for two consecutive weeks, starting from the date of publication, orders the following further measures relating to the territory of the Province of Latina,” the Lazio regional Covid-19 crisis unit said in a statement.
 
The measures include:
  •  A midnight curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants at midnight
  • No more than 4 people per table at restaurants
  • A limit of 20 people at parties and religious ceremonies 
  • A ban on visitors at hospitals and care homes
  • A recommendation for people to work remotely as much as possible.
While Italian media referred to the measures as a “mini lockdown”, there was no mention of a ban on travel to or from the province, or any requirement to fill out a form when leaving the house, as was the case during the height of Italy’s national shutdown.
 
The measures go into force from midnight.
 
 
Latina recorded 359 new cases on Thursday, while there were 144 in the city of Rome.
 
Italy recorded almost 4,500 new cases in total over the past 24 hours.
 
 
While italy’s prime minister said this week he does not “see a new national lockdown on the horizon”, local measures are widely expected to be enforced in various parts of Italy in the coming weeks in response to sharp spikes in cases in many regions.
 
Italian regional authorities can declare “red zones” or enforce local lockdowns under special powers granted due to the country’s state of emergency, which was extended on Wednesday and will now stay in place until January 21st, 2021 – a year since it was first introduced.
 
An update to existing emergency measures, which comes into force on Thursday, makes wearing a mask obligatory whenever you leave your home, at all times of the day and in all parts of the country.
 
The government has also raised the fines for refusing to wear a mask to between €400 and €1,000, with police patrols deployed to check that people are complying. Until now the maximum penalty was €400, though some regions had introduced higher fines locally.
 
Italy’s government was also expected to sign off on a wider range of new rules on Wednesday under a new emergency decree, but that has now been postponed and current rules will stay in place until October 15th.
 
You can follow all of The Local’s latest updates on the coronavirus situation in Italy here.
 
 
 

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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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