Italy’s low birth rate ‘plunging further due to coronavirus crisis’

The coronavirus crisis has hit Italy's already historically-low birth rate, new projections from the national statistics agency reveal.

Italy's low birth rate 'plunging further due to coronavirus crisis'
Fewer babies are expected to be born next year as Italy's economy suffers due to Covid-19. AFP
Italy had last year already recorded its lowest number of births for 150 years, at 420,000.
This could fall to 408,000 in 2020 and 393,000 in 2021, according to Istat.
The projections were presented to lawmakers on Tuesday by Istat head Gian Carlo Blangiardo.
“The climate of fear and uncertainty and the growing difficulties linked to employment and income generated by recent events will have a negative impact on Italian couples' fertility decisions,” he said.
“The demographic recession that has hit Italy since 2015 is significant and translates into a real collapse that has no equivalent in Italian history,
except if we go back to 1917-18, with World War I and the dramatic effects of the Spanish flu,” Blangiardo continued
Women and young people have been particularly badly affected by the crisis caused by coronavirus, which first hit Italy earlier this year, sparking an economically crippling national lockdown.
Employment among women fell by 1.9 percent between February and September this year, compared to 1.1 percent for men, as people were more likely to lose their jobs during lockdown and see a slower recovery, according to Istat.
It warned that the crisis was “amplifying existing inequalities in the labour market”.
The pandemic destroyed 80 percent of jobs gained by women since the financial crisis of 2008.
Between 2008 and 2019, Italy recorded an extra 602,000 jobs held by women. But it only took three months between April and June this year to lose 470,000
of them.
Istat found women are more likely to work in low-paid jobs in the service sector – which has been hit particularly hard by the crisis.
The hospitality industry in particular is still suffering, as a result of a nationwide night curfew and early closing for bars and restaurants introduced to stem a new wave of infections, while even tighter restrictions are in place in the regions most at risk.
In Italy, only half of women work, compared to 73 percent in Germany, 62 percent in France and 58 percent in Spain. Only Greece has a worst female employment level in Europe, at just 47 percent.
Italy has introduced various measures in recent years aimed at countering the chronically low birth rate, believed to be caused by the country's long-standing economic problems.
In the 2020 budget, ministers announced more funding for childcare and increased mandatory paternity leave to ten days.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”