Covid-19: Italy updates rules on visiting family over Christmas

The Italian government has clarified the restrictions on travelling within the country to visit friends and relatives over Christmas and New Year.

Covid-19: Italy updates rules on visiting family over Christmas

The government on Monday confirmed it had loosened a planned restriction on travel between towns over the Christmas holidays on the dates when “red zone” rules apply.

It had repeatedly tightened the coronavirus rules over the festive season, as it seeks to avoid a new spike in infections over the holidays.

The toughest 'red zone' restrictions will be in place over Christmas, New Year and Epiphany, meaning Italy will go in and out of lockdown over the holiday period.

CALENDAR: How Italy's rules will change throughout Christmas and New Year

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

On the ten 'red' days during the holidays it will be possible to visit people in a different town within the same region, Palazzo Chigi clarified.

The goverment had previously said that all travel between towns would be banned on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. It then said that travel within a certain radius was allowed. While that rule remain in place on 'orange' days, travelling anywhere in your region is now permitted.

However you're only allowed to go out once a day on 'red' days, and only to visit loved ones.

A maximum of two people at a time are allowed to visit family and friends, according to the update.

Restrictions do not apply to children aged under 14.

The government added the following clarification via to the coronavirus FAQ on its website on Monday:

“On public holidays and the day before holidays (24, 25, 26, 27 and 31 December and 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 January) it will be possible, once a day, to travel to visit relatives or friends, even in other municipalities, but always and only within the same region.”

Visits are only allowed “between 5am and 10pm, and up to a maximum of two people. The person or two people who travel will be able to bring with them children under 14 (or other children under 14 over whom the same people exercise parental authority) and disabled or non self-sufficient people who live with them.”

The government has already updated several rules via tweaks to the FAQ, including the rules on visiting second homes over Christmas.

Travel remains limited between all Italian regions from December 21st to January 6th.

During that period, travel between regions is only allowed for work, health, and emergency reasons, and you'll need to take a completed self-certification form with you if travelling.

International travel is also further restricted during this period: anyone arriving in Italy from abroad is subject to a two-week quarantine.

People from most countries outside Europe can still only travel to Italy for essential reasons, and on Sunday Italy also banned flights and all arrivals from the UK until January 6th amid concerns about a new strain of the coronavirus.

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Italy reports first case of monkeypox

Italy on Thursday reported its first case of monkeypox, joining a number of other European and North American nations in detecting the disease endemic in parts of Africa.

Italy reports first case of monkeypox

Monkeypox was identified in a young adult who had recently returned from the Canary Islands, Rome’s Spallanzani Institute for infectious diseases said.

He is being treated in isolation and is in a reasonable condition, it said in a statement carried by Italian news agencies, adding that two other suspected cases were being investigated.

Alessio D’Amato, health commissioner for the Lazio region that includes Rome, confirmed on social media that it was the country’s first case, adding that the situation was being “constantly monitored”.

Cases of monkeypox have also been detected in Spain and Portugal – where more than 40 possible and verified cases have been reported – as well as Britain, Sweden, the United States and Canada.

The illness has infected thousands of people in parts of Central and Western Africa in recent years, but is rare in Europe and North Africa.

Its symptoms are similar but somewhat milder than smallpox’s: fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, chills, exhaustion, although it also causes the lymph nodes to swell up.

Within one to three days, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body. Although most monkeypox cases aren’t serious, studies have shown that one in ten people who contract the disease in Africa die from it.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday said it was coordinating with UK and European health officials over the new outbreaks.