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CHRISTMAS

Italy bans travel between towns over Christmas

The Italian government on Wednesday approved a law banning travel between regions over the Christmas period, and between towns on Christmas Day.

Italy bans travel between towns over Christmas
The village of Sassello, Liguria, following overnight snowfall on December 2nd. AFP

The Italian government is due on Thursday to announce and sign off on a new set of anti-coronavirus measures, to come into force by Friday.

READ ALSO: 'A different kind of Christmas': What will Italy's new coronavirus rules be in December?

But ahead of the full set of measures, the government on Wednesday night separately approved a decree law prohibiting non-essential travel between regions from December 21st-January 6th.

The rules will be even stricter on Christmas Day itself, with a ban on travelling between towns and comunes in place on December 25-26th, and on New Year's Day, as the government seeks to avoid a third wave of coronavirus infections being triggered by socialising over the festive period.

“From December 21st 2020 to January 6th 2021, travel between different regions (including those to or from the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano) will be prohibited, with the exception of travel for proven work reasons, situations of necessity or health reasons,” a government press release stated on Thursday morning.

“On December 25th and 26th 2020 and January 1st 2021, travel between different municipalities will also be prohibited, with the same exceptions.”

The restriction would apply nationwide even if, as ministers hope, all regions are downgraded to lower-risk yellow zones this month.

Travelling between towns and regions for non-essential reasons is already prohibited in Italian regions designated high-risk red and orange zones.

The goverment's statement clarified that travel “will always be possible, even from 21 December to 6 January, to return to one's residence or home.”

However, there will be limits on visiting second homes during the holidays.

“From December 21st 2020 to January 6th 2021 it will be forbidden to travel to second homes located in a region or autonomous province other than one's own. On December 25th and 26th 2020 and January 1st 2021, the ban will also apply to second homes located in a municipality other than their own.”

TELL US: How have your plans changed this Christmas?

As well as this law, Italy's prime minister is due to sign off on a new emergency decree – formally called a DPCM (Decreto del presidente del consiglio, or 'prime minister's decree') – containing rules covering the next month, including the Christmas period, by Friday, December 4th.

Photo: AFP

 

 

Member comments

  1. Hello
    Since travel restrictions start on the 20th- can you go some place in the north like a chalet in the mountains for the two weeks? if all is yellow? or if you are in yellow and the other region is yellow?

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COVID-19

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].”

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