Parties banned and restaurants shut early: What’s in Italy’s new October emergency decree?

Parties banned and restaurants shut early: What's in Italy's new October emergency decree?
People wearing face masks walk in the centre of Turin on October 12th. Photo: AFP
Italy's new emergency decree signed on Monday night sets out the country's new measures aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Here's a look at what changes and what stays the same.

*Note: This article is now out of date. For the most recent updates click here*

Italy's prime minister late on Monday evening signed off on the latest set of emergency rules aimed at managing the coronavirus crisis in the country.

The new measures are tougher than those originally planned in an earlier version of the decree last week. The Italian parliament was originally set to approve it on October 7th, but it was postponed.
 
Since then, rules have been toughened after the number of new cases has risen sharply.
 
“We are forced to tighten the rules after weeks of loosened measures,” said Health Minister Roberto Speranza, adding that stricter rules are necessary “to get the contagion curve under control”.
 
 
The new decree includes new limits on parties and early closing for restaurants, while mandatory isolation has been cut from 14 days to 10 for asymptomatic cases.
 
These rules are in addition to the recent requirement for masks to be worn in public places – indoors and outdoors – at all times, passed separately last week.
 
This the latest in a series of government decrees – formally called a DPCM (Decreto del presidente del consiglio, or 'prime minister's decree') – issued under Italy's coronavirus state of emergency.
 
The decree is valid for 30 days, until November 13th, when ministers will again decide if rules should be extended or revisited.
 
The full decree text is available here (in Italian). Here are the main measures to know about.
 

Limits on parties and gatherings

Parties are prohibited in all indoor and outdoor venues.

Civil or religious ceremonies such as weddings and baptisms remain allowed, following rules set under previous decrees. But receptions and events following the ceremonies are now limted to 30 guests. Up to 200 were allowed under previous rules.

While there is no binding rule forbidding parties at home, the decree text states that it is “strongly recommended to avoid parties” or to have gatherings of more than six people at home.

READ ALSO: Italian minister warns parties and 'family Sunday lunches' are fuelling spread of coronavirus

Health minister Roberto Speranza said on Italy's Rai TV channel on Monday: “When there is a rule, Italians have shown that they respect it and that they don't need a policeman to monitor them.”

“I'm convinced that the vast majority of people will follow the instructions contained in an emergency decree.”

Ministers said on Monday that the ban is needed to keep schools open due to the high number of transmissions within families and groups of friends.

Italy's Higher Health Institute reported on Friday that 77 percent of recent infections had been between family members, with many linked to events such as baptisms and weddngs.

Early closing for bars and restaurants

There are new restrictions in the decree for bars, restaurants, gelaterias and pasticcerias.

“Catering activities are allowed up to 24:00 with table service and until 21:00 in the absence of table service,” the decree states.

Home delivery and takeaways remain permitted but “with a ban on consumption on the spot or nearby after 9pm”.

The new rules also state that people are prohibited from gathering outside places such as bars and restaurants between 9pm and 6am.

This also means you're not allowed to park in front of these businesses after 9pm, according to rules aimed at preventing crowds from gathering.

Ban on amateur contact sports

All non-professional contact sports, including football, are now prohibited.

Isolation reduced to ten days

The mandatory isolation period for anyone who tests positive but is asymptomatic has been cut from 14 days to “at least” ten, following recommendations from government's scientific advisory panel.

Anyone who has tested positive will still be required to show a negative test result before being allowed to leave  isolation, the Ministry of Health clarified in a note.

Asymptomatic cases can leave isolation after ten days with the negative result, while those who show symptoms must stay in isolation for a further three days.

The new rules also allow for rapid coronavirus tests to be carried out by GPs at doctors' surgeries, which is expected to be practically possible within the next two weeks.
 
Currently, you need to get a referral to take a test at an approved local clinic or testing centre.

READ ALSO: Travelling to Italy? Here's what you need to know about coronavirus tests

A medical worker waits at a drive-through testing centre in Rome, in front of a wall mual which says “I will not let myself be fooled”. Photo: AFP

Local lockdowns?
 
The new decree sets out guidelines for local authorities which deem it necessary bring in a localised lockdown if outbreaks become difficult to control in a particular area.
 
Italian PM Giuseppe Conte said again on Monday that his government would not be imposing a new national lockdown in response to an increase in Covid-19 cases.
 
“I exclude lockdowns and I say that after due consideration,” Conte told reporters. “If the contagion curve keeps going up, it would be possible to consider lockdowns limited to specific areas”.

 
 
Masks recommended at home, outdoor rules clarified
 
The decree includes a recommendation (not a requirement) that masks be worn inside the home if you have visitors.
 
PM Conte described it as “a strong recommendation on masks inside private homes in the presence of people who do not live together,” adding that it is not a binding rule “but we want to send the message that if you receive guests you must use a mask.”
 
The rules on wearing masks in public at all times remain unchanged.
 
Under a new law passed last week, it became obligatory to wear a mask at all times when out of the house. Higher fines of 400-1,000 euros were also introduces for anyone refusing to wear a mask when required. Previously the maximum fine was 400 euros.
 
There are exemptions for children under six and those with certain disabilities which make wearing a mask impractical.  
 
Ministers clarified on Monday that there is also an exemption to the mask rule for people doing “sports activities” outside such as jogging or riding a bike, but not for those who are walking.
 
What stays the same: 
 
Italy's current travel restrictions remain unchanged under the new decree.
 
And there are no planned closures of any types of businesses.
 
However, the.decree text allows local authorities to opt for “selective” closures of businesses – including bars and restaurants – if there is an “adverse” situation regarding infections locally.
 
Cinemas, theatres and concert venues are allowed to remain open, and can continue to allow up to 200 spectators per performance indoors, and 1,000 outdoors, with the requirement of one metre between seated customers.
 
Gyms and swimming pools remain open with the existing safety measures in place.
 
The number of spectators allowed at sporting events remains unchanged at 1,000.
 
Nightclubs are to remain closed.

 
Police on patrol at Rome's Spanish Steps. Photo: AFP
 

Safety measures on planes, trains and ships are unchanged, and local public transport will continue to run at 80 percent of maximum capacity.
 
Schools are to remain open, with most safety rules unchanged as ministers say current protocols appear to be working. However, school trips are now banned.
 
The current requirements on social distancing and regular handwashing and sanitising stay the same.
 
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.

 
See the Italian health ministry's website for more information on the current public health measures.


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