Can the olive harvest still go ahead under Italy’s coronavirus restrictions?

Italy's new coronavirus restrictions came in just as many people were about to begin the olive harvest. If you're one of them, here's what you need to know.

Can the olive harvest still go ahead under Italy's coronavirus restrictions?
File photo: AFP

The latest rules, which came into force on Friday, include a nationwide curfew and three-tiered system of rules aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

At this time of year, many in Italy are left wondering what this means for the olive harvest.

Q&A: Your key questions about Italy's coronavirus rules answered

Farmers and agricultural workers don't face any restrictions.  Just as during the first lockdown, they can continue to work as long as they follow the rules on self-certification (in red and orange areas), use of masks, social distancing, and sanitation.

But what about those who are not farmers, but harvest olives to make oil for their own use? What if you usually help family or friends with their harvest? Can you still go to the fields – and the mill?

In these cases the rules are not as clear-cut.

Red and orange zones

The main factors to consider are which region you're in, and how far you'd need to travel for the harvest.

If both you and the olive grove are in a yellow zone, you won't face any restrictions. However. you can't travel from a yellow zone to an orange or red zone.

MAP: Which zone is your region in under Italy's new tier system?

If you're in an orange zone, you must stay within your region other than for essential reasons, such as for work.

In red zones, you must stay within your own comune.

Does the olive harvest count as an essential reason for travel?

The government has not issued any official guidance on this at the time of writing.

However, agricultural news website writes: “To justify moving from home to the olive grove for work reasons, you need a VAT number. But in the case of necessary and non-postponable agricultural practices, such as olive harvesting, even if it is for personal consumption, we believe that it could fall within the reasons justified by the self-declaration form.”

File photo: AFP

While it seems that travelling to your own land in another comune could be allowed, whether or not you're allowed to go and help family or friends with their olive harvest seems to be a grey area.

If their olive grove is close by, this is unlikely to be a problem – though of course the rules on social distancing, use of masks, and avoiding gatherings would apply.

As rules can vary by municipality, you are advised to check wih your local police or prefettura for clarification.

Can I visit the olive mill?

While it's easy enough to follow social distancing measures in an olive grove, what about taking your harvest to the frantoio, or mill, to be pressed?

“Since there is no specific legislation in the case of olive harvesting, we can interpret the government's rules concerning the possibility of shopping in areas different from the one in which we live: In practice, this is possible if you require goods or services not found in your own municipality,” writes.

“Therefore,  it is possible to go to the mill closest to our home, for example in the neighbouring municipality.”
They stress that you should travel between the hours of 5am and 10pm due to the national curfew rules in place, if you are not a professional.
You will also need to fill out a self-certification form detailing your reasons for travel. also advises asking the municipal police what the rules are locally, “for greater peace of mind.”
Remember that Italy's local authorities (regional and municipal) have the power to adopt more restrictive rules of their own on top of those included in the emergency decree.
So what's alowed in a region in principle may turn out not to be possible in some towns.

As with all the restrictions in Italy, you should check the local rules in your region. Find out where and how to do that in a separate article here.

Member comments

  1. Why not stop it? The government is working so hard to kill the economy, this would be right in line with their efforts. Besides, shouldn’t they make the olive growers suffer even more this year that they are already suffering from the blight? (dripping sarcasm, folks). These trees have survived centuries, but probably have never “witnessed” such incompetence as now.

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Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”