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CHRISTMAS

CALENDAR: What are Italy’s new Covid-19 rules over Christmas and New Year?

Italy is adding extra restrictions over Christmas and New Year, sending the country in and out of lockdown. Here's when the rules change.

CALENDAR: What are Italy's new Covid-19 rules over Christmas and New Year?
Christmas lights in central Rome. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Until December 20th:

Current restrictions remain in place, with a nationwide curfew from 10pm to 5am and all museums, cinemas, theatres, galleries and other venues closed.

Shops remain open, though shopping centres must close on weekends.

Bars and restaurants are only allowed to serve customers until 6pm, and in higher risk 'orange' zones, they cannot serve on the premises at all. 

Orange zones – currently only the region of Abruzzo – also face restrictions on travel, with movement between towns or outside the region only permitted in emergencies.

Travel within or between yellow zones, for any reason, is still allowed.

Find more information about the rules in each zone here.

Restrictions on international travel continue to apply, with people arriving from most countries outside the EU or Schengen zone only permitted to enter Italy for work, health, study or other essentials, and subject to a 14-day quarantine. 

Travellers from within the EU may enter Italy without justifying their reasons, but must test negative for Covid-19 no more than 48 hours before they begin their journey – or face two weeks of quarantine on arrival.

December 21st to 23rd: Regional travel ban and quarantine for international travellers

All the previous restrictions remain in place, plus there's a ban on non-essential travel between regions – any and all of them, regardless of which colour zone they are.

The rules also get tighter for travellers arriving from the EU, who now have to observe a 14-day quarantine if they enter Italy on or after December 21st.

Bars, restaurants and shops can remain open in yellow zones within the usual rules, though in orange zone Abruzzo they remain closed.

December 24th to 27th: Red zone

Italy goes into temporary lockdown, with maximum red zone restrictions applied across the whole country.

People must not circulate within their own towns, between towns, or between regions without a valid, urgent reason, though individual outdoor exercise is allowed near your home.

There is one key exception: you are allowed to travel within the same region, no more than once a day and with no more than one other person, to visit friends or family at home. Children under 14 or others in need of care are also allowed to come. 

Bars and restaurants are closed, as are all shops except food stores, pharmacies, news agents, launderettes and hairdressers. Curfew remains from 10pm to 5am.

Everyone arriving from overseas must continue to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

December 28th to 30th: Orange zone

The whole of Italy becomes an orange zone: only essential travel is allowed between regions, but you can circulate freely within your own town.

People in small towns (5,000 inhabitants or fewer) can travel within a radius of 30 kilometres in order to reach neighbouring comuni, but they must not go to the provincial capital, even if it's nearby, to avoid crowding larger towns.

Bars and restaurants are closed to customers, though they can makes deliveries or serve take-out until 10pm. Shops are allowed to remain open until 9pm.

Curfew begins, as usual, at 10pm and lasts until 5am.

Everyone arriving from overseas must continue to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

December 31st to January 3rd: Red zone

Italy returns to lockdown, with the same red zone rules as between December 24-27th. 

People must not circulate within their own towns, between towns, or between regions without a valid, urgent reason.

Individual outdoor exercise is allowed near your home and you are allowed to travel within the same region, no more than once a day and with no more than one other person, to visit friends or family at home. Children under 14 or others in need of care are also allowed to come. 

Bars and restaurants are closed, as are all shops except food stores, pharmacies, news agents, laundrettes and hairdressers.

Curfew remains from 10pm to 5am, with the exception of New Year's when it extends from 10pm until 7am on January 1st.

Everyone arriving from overseas must continue to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

January 4th: Orange zone

Back to orange zone rules again for one day: only essential travel is allowed between regions, but you can circulate freely within your own town.

People in small towns (5,000 inhabitants or fewer) can travel within a radius of 30 kilometres in order to reach neighbouring comuni, but they must not go to the provincial capital.

Bars and restaurants are closed to customers, though they can makes deliveries or serve take-out until 10pm. Shops are allowed to remain open until 9pm. 

Curfew begins at 10pm and lasts until 5am.

Everyone arriving from overseas must continue to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

January 5th to 6th: Red zone

Italy becomes a nationwide red zone again: people must not circulate within their own towns, between towns, or between regions without a valid, urgent reason, though individual outdoor exercise is allowed and you can make one trip within the region per day to visit friends or family at home.

Bars and restaurants are closed, as are all businesses except food stores, pharmacies, news agents, laundrettes and hairdressers.

Curfew remains from 10pm to 5am.

Everyone arriving from overseas must continue to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

From January 7th:

Travel between regions is once more allowed, unless any of them are designated local orange or red zones.

Unless the government announces otherwise, schools are due to reopen for in-person teaching. Ski slopes are also scheduled to open.

Curfew remains from 10pm to 5pm nationwide and all museums, cinemas, theatres, galleries and other venues are closed.

Shops remain open in yellow zones, though shopping centres must close on weekend, while bars and restaurants are only allowed to serve customers until 6pm.

International travellers who spent any part of the period from December 21st to January 6th outside Italy must continue to quarantine for 14 days after their arrival in Italy, even if they're entering after the period itself. Find more information here.

People who leave and return to Italy after this time – i.e., people who spent the entire period between December 21st and January 6th in Italy and are only travelling from January 7th onwards – can show a negative Covid-19 test from the past 48 hours to avoid quarantining on arrival.

Please be aware that different regions of Italy may have additional local restrictions. Check the latest rules in places where you are: find out how to do that here.

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ENERGY

Lights out: How Christmas in Italy will be different this year

As the European energy crisis continues, some cities in Italy have chosen to save on electricity by downsizing regular Christmas displays, thus making this year’s festivities a little less flashy.

Lights out: How Christmas in Italy will be different this year

With less than a month to go until the Christmas holidays, many might be rejoicing at the prospect of finally seeing their cities lit up by dazzling Christmas displays.

But, as the European energy crisis shows no sign of abating and many cities across the boot keep struggling to square their accounts in the face of soaring bills, some residents may be disappointed to know that this year’s festive decorations might differ from the norm.

Milan, Italy’s economic capital, was one of the very first Italian cities to announce it would significantly reduce Christmas displays to save on energy.

READ ALSO: Lights off and home working: Milan’s new energy-saving plan for winter 

After reports emerged in early October that the city would end up spending a whopping €130 million on energy bills alone in 2022, Milan’s mayor, Giuseppe Sala, was quick to warn residents that Christmas decorations would be “restrained” and operate “for shorter periods of time”.

And, it wasn’t long before Sala made good on his promises. 

Earlier this month, the city’s authorities agreed on putting up decorations and light displays on December 7th (that is over two weeks after the usual date) and taking them down on January 6th instead of late January. 

Christmas lights in the streets of central Milan

Christmas lights in Milan will be switched on on December 7th, that is over two weeks after the usual switch-on date. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Also, while in previous years Milan’s city centre was illuminated overnight, this year’s Christmas lights will be switched on at 4pm and switched off at midnight. 

But, while Milan residents might be slightly dissatisfied with the new arrangements, they sure have little to complain about when compared to Rome residents. 

It’ll be a dark Christmas (literally and, perhaps, even figuratively) for most areas of the Eternal City and not merely because of the current energy crisis. 

READ ALSO: Energy crisis: The Italians reviving ‘nonna’s’ traditions to keep costs down

The city’s tender for this year’s Christmas lights contract received no bids before its deadline on October 27th, which means that, in many neighbourhoods, festive decorations will be largely left to the goodwill and financial means of the residents.

So while the popular Piazza di Spagna, Porta Pia and Via Alessandria will light up over the holiday season thanks to private funding, the San Giovanni and Tuscolano neighbourhoods and Via Cola di Rienzo are currently expected to remain au naturel.

Christmas light in a street in Rome

Many areas of the capital, Rome, will be without lights this year due to lack of funding. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Things will generally be better in Venice and Florence, where local authorities have recently chosen to maintain their usual arrangements, the only exception being the replacement of regular lights with energy-efficient, LED ones. 

So, while the lighting might be a little softer and displays might not be as remarkable as in previous years, both cities should be able to deal with late-December energy bills more comfortably than they would have had to do otherwise.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Italy has avoided a huge hike in gas prices – for now 

Having said that, not all Italian cities have decided to resize their Christmas offerings on the back of eye-watering electricity prices. 

Naples, which has long been known for the extravagance of its Christmas and New Year celebrations, has seemingly chosen to turn a blind eye to the energy crisis and will allocate as much as €1.5 million (that’s €150,000 to each one of the ten local municipalities) to this year’s displays.

Unsurprisingly, the comune’s decision has been drawing widespread criticism, with many local political figures pointing out that part, if not most, of the above-mentioned amount should have been spent elsewhere, perhaps in the form of a one-off ‘Christmas bonus’ for struggling households and businesses.

The available money should have been used to “turn off the crisis and light up people’s hearts”, city councillors Antonio Culiers and Francesco Flores said in a joint statement earlier this month.

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