Italy confirms ‘red zone’ lockdown over Christmas and New Year

Italy confirms 'red zone' lockdown over Christmas and New Year
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte gives a televised press conference on December 18th. Screenshot: Palazzo Chigi/Youtube
Italy will be placed under nationwide measures from Monday, December 21st, prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Friday night, amid fears of a coronavirus ‘third wave’.

The whole country will be placed under additional nationwide restrictions for the entire Christmas period, from December 21st until Epiphany on January 6th, Conte announced.

“The situation remains difficult,” Conte said in a televised press conference just before 10pm on Friday. “Our (scientific) experts are concerned that the contagion rate could soar over the Christmas period.”

He said red zone restrictions would be in force across the country from December 24th-27th, and December 31st-January 3rd, and again from January 5th-6th.

This means that red zone measures apply on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and the weekend immediately following, and on Epiphany and the day before.

Declaring a red zone across Italy effectively amounts to a national lockdown, similar to that announced in March.

Red zone restrictions, the strictest possible under Italy’s tiered system of coronavirus rules introduced in November, include ordering all non-essential shops to close as well as restaurants and bars, and forbidding travel within as well as to and from regions.

“You can leave the house only for reasons of work, necessity and health,” Conte said.

Sports are banned, however Conte confirmed that outdoor exercise “near your home” is allowed.

And rules have been altered to allow “a maximum of two non-cohabiting people to visit friends or relatives at private homes,” Conte confirmed.

Under-14s are not included in the restrictions, he added.

Visits are only allowed until 10pm as curfew rules remain in place.

On the days that are not holidays – December 28th-30th and January 4th – the entire country will be under slightly less restrictive orange zone measures, under which shops can reopen but not bars or restaurants.

On those dates, travel is allowed to and from small municipalities (defined as those with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants) within a radius of 30 kilometres. However, entering provincial capitals is forbidden.

“It is a measure that we have designed to allow the minimum of sociability that is suitable for this period,” Conte said at the press conference from Palazzo Chigi. 

“This press conference was a bit late because we wanted to include the financial aid measures immediately”, Conte said, announcing a further 465 million euros in compensation for businesses hit by the closures.

“We stand alongside the business owners who will be affected by these measures,” he said.

“We have suspended tax contributions for those who have made losses. Anyone who suffers economic damage must be immediately compensated.”

 


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