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Curfew or lockdown: What will be in Italy’s latest emergency decree?

The Italian government is on Monday drafting the latest in a series of emergency decrees aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19. Here's what we know about it so far.

Curfew or lockdown: What will be in Italy's latest emergency decree?
A man looks at a closed shop near the Spanish Steps in Rome on November 1st, 2020.

Italy's latest set of coronavirus rules is set to be announced on Monday, making this the fourth emergency decree announced since October 13th.

AROUND EUROPE: The relentless resurgence of coronavirus causes unease and despair

New measures are to include a “late evening” curfew and restrictions on travel between regions deemed “at risk”, accordng to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

While many in Italy were expecting some form of lockdown in the coming days, with new cases now over 30,000 a day, the government has instead opted for a nationwide evening curfew.

 
While the continually rising case numbers have forced the government to bring in further restrictions sooner than originally planned, it remains against implementing nationwide measures and instead opted to tighten restrictions in areas with the highest transmisson rates.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte outlined the latest planned restrictions in a speech to the lower house of the Italian parliament on Monday afternoon.

“In light of last Friday's report (from the Higher Health Insitiute) and of the particularly critical situation in some regions, we are forced to intervene, with a view to prudence, to mitigate the contagion rate with a strategy that must correspond to the different situations of the regions,” he said.

Local or regional lockdowns?
 
Conte confirmed that the government is not planning to bring in sweeping nationwide measures, but “there will be targeted interventions according to the risks in the various regions”.
 
He said this would include a “ban on travel to high-risk regions, national travel limit in the evening, more distance learning, and public transport with a capacity limited to 50 percent “.
 
Regional governors had been pressing for rules to be applied at national level, but the national government instead wants to limit restrictions to “red zones”, based on the local infection rate (depending on the Rt number, or transmission index), according to Italian financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore.
 
Evening curfew throughout Italy
 
Conte confirmed that a nationwide evening curfew would be included in the new decree.
 
This would mean the closure of all shops, except for pharmacies and food retailers.
 
While Italy’s worst-hit areas currently have their own curfews in place – including in the cities of Milan, Rome, and Naples – this rule could be extended and standardized nationwide under the new decree as a form of compromise between the national and regional governments.
 
It is not yet known what time the curfew will begin. Regional heads are reportedly pushing for a 9pm curfew while the CTS recommended 6pm.
 
Conte did not specify the time, only saying it would be in the “late evening”.
 
 
Customers at bars in Rome need to drink up by 6pm under the current local curfew. Photo: AFP
 
Further business closures
 
Conte said the new decree would close museums, galleries, betting shops and arcades – in addition to the closures of gyms, pools, cinemas and theatres under the last set of rules.
 
“We'll close shopping centres on public holidays, with the exception of food stores, drugstores and pharmacies and newsstands inside the centres,” he said, adding that these were “specific measures that help to strengthen the containment and mitigation of the contagion.”
 
This is likely to be the most controversial measure following widespread protests last week over current restrictions on restaurant opening hours, but ministers insist financial support will be available for affected businesses.
 
 
'We have to follow the scientific advice. It is inevitable in this second wave that further measures are taken, accompanied by economic support,” said Roberto Gualtieri, Minister of Economy and Finance. “This requires painful intermediate measures.”
 
“The more effective they are, the better we will be able to avoid a new lockdown. The government will give all the necessary support to the extent that it is needed. We have the resources to do that,”  he told Ansa

 
 
Remote work and study
 
Public administration workers may be required to work from home where possible under new rules.
 
While high schools are currently asked to teach classes online, this measure will now be extended to middle schools, Conte confirmed.
 
The national government is not currently discussing school closures, though some regions including Puglia have chosen to require all schools to teach remotely.
 
Find all The Local's latest coronavirus updates 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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