How will Italy’s coronavirus rules change under the new emergency decree?

Italy's health minister on Wednesday outlined some of the upcoming changes to the country's coronavirus rules. Here's what we know so far.

How will Italy's coronavirus rules change under the new emergency decree?
Photo: AFP

**Note: This article is no longer being updated. For the latest on Italy's coronavirus restrictions, please click here.**

Italian government ministers on Wednesday continue to discuss the proposals for new coronavirus measures from mid-January onwards.

A new emergency decree – formally called a DPCM (Decreto del presidente del consiglio, or 'prime minister's decree') – containing a revised set of coronvirus rules is due to be announced by Friday January 15th, when the current decree expires.

READ ALSO: 'A new surge is coming': PM Conte warns Italy as ministers review coronavirus rules

While Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday focused on getting approval for his plan for the Recovery Fund, Health Minister Roberto Speranza addressed parliament's lower house on the planned rule changes.

Conte and Speranza have stressed this week that continued restrictions are needed due to a a “general worsening” of the epidemiological situation in Italy

“This week intensive care occupancy is increasing by more than 30%, the Rt index has risen and there are more outbreaks with an unknown origin,” Speranza told parliament on Wednesday.

“We know that Covid has numbered months left, and with vaccines we will defeat this virus. But we have not yet won and we must not misread this decisive phase,” Speranza said.

The latest official health data shows that the contagion risk is currently high in 12 of italy's 20 regions, Speranza said.

The new decree is set to come into force from January 16th, though is not yet known how long it will be in place for.

A draft text of the new decree still needs to be debated in parliament, and likely amended, before being signed into law.

Here's what we know at the moment based on Speranza's comments on Wednesday.

Travel restrictions

Speranza said the government is looking at keeping a ban on non-essential travel between all regions in place at all times.

He has also previously suggested that the whole country will be placed under orange zone restrictions on weekends throughout January.

Museums to reopen?

In the lower-risk yellow zones, “in the new dpcm it is the government's intention to reopen the museums”, Speranza said on Wednesday.

Limit on visitors at home
The government's current recommended two-guest limit at home is expected to stay in place under the new decree.
“It is the intention of the government to confirm in the new decree the indication to be able to receive a maximum of two non-cohabiting people, as already happened during the Christmas holidays,” Speranza said.
Children under 14 are currently exempt from the limit, and this is set to remain a recommendation, not a law.
More restrictions on restaurants
The government also plans to introduce a ban on the sale of take-away food and drinks after 6pm, Speranza confirmed.
Under existing rules, bars and restaurants even in the lower-risk ‘yellow’ zones must close at 6pm. Takeaway is then allowed until 10pm, though current rules state that customers must not eat at the premises.

'White zone'

In addition to the red, orange and yellow zones under Italy's tiered system, “the government also intends to provide a fourth zone, white – only for those regions with incidence of fewer than 50 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants and an Rt number under 1”, Speranza said. while stressing that inhabitants would need to continue “respecting all social distancing measures”.

Toti said white zones would allow “a slow return to normality to begin.”

Plans to tighten regional restrictions

The 12 'high-risk' regions are expected to be declared 'orange' zones by Friday. 

And even in the areas that will remain yellow, movement between regions will be prohibited except for essential reasons, Speranza said.

Extension of the state of emergency

The government is set to extend the Covid-19 state of emergency until at least the end of April, Speranza said on Wednesday.

“When all the (virus) parameters deteriorate at the same time, we are obliged to take new measures and the government considers extending the state of emergency until April 30th to be inevitable,” Speranza told the Lower House.

The state of emergency does not determine the rules.

However, it allows the govenment to bypass red tape, speeding up the response to the changing coronavirus situation by passing new rules under emergency decrees.

See the Italian health ministry's website for more information on the current public health measures.

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Reader Question: What are Italy’s Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Italy's quarantine rules have changed so many times over the past couple of years, it can be hard to keep track. Here's the latest information on when and how visitors need to self-isolate.

Reader Question: What are Italy's Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Question: “One of your recent articles says you can exit quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. But you can also exit quarantine by obtaining a Letter of Recovery from Covid-19… true?”

Unfortunately, official proof of having recovered from Covid-19 won’t get you out of the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while visiting Italy – though it can shorten your quarantine period.

Anyone who tests positive in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle or recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and boosted, or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine in order to be allowed out.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter its borders, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/ have recently recovered from Covid.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Some countries (including the US), however, do require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure – which means visitors at the tail end of their journey could be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

It’s because of this rule that a number of The Local’s readers told us they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer, and intend to postpone for another year.

If you are planning on visiting Italy from a country that requires you to test negative for Covid prior to re-entry, it’s a good idea to consider what you would do and where you would go in the unlikely event you unexpectedly test positive.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

You can keep up with the latest updates via our homepage or Italian travel news section.