UPDATE: Which parts of Italy are under local lockdowns?

From 'reinforced orange' to 'mini red' zones, a growing number of Italian regions, provinces and towns are under differing rules aimed at containing the spread of coronavirus variants. Here's what you need to know.

UPDATE: Which parts of Italy are under local lockdowns?
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

*Please note this article is no longer being updated. For the latest reports on the coronavirus situation in Italy, please click here.*

If you thought Italy’s changing regional tiered system of red, orange, yellow and white zones was confusing, things have become more complex over the past few weeks.

The coronavirus-related rules in each region are decided under the national government’s tier system, based on the contagion risk according to weekly health data reports..

But the regional map doesn’t tell the whole story.

Many local authorities have also declared their own additional restrictions covering a single town, or a whole province within a region.

There are now dozens of so-called ‘mini red zones’ or localised lockdowns in towns or provinces that have seen a spike in cases, some linked to more infectious variants of the coronavirus first detected in the UK, Brazil and South Africa.

READ ALSO: Regional restrictions to continue as Italian PM signs new emergency decree

Some authorities are also announcing additional rules covering a whole region (on top of those imposed by the national government), such as restrictions on school openings beyond those provided under the tiered system.

This is the case in Lombardy, including Milan, which has declared itself a ‘reinforced orange zone’ from Friday March 5th. This means schools are to close, among other restrictions beyond those required under the ‘orange’ classification from the health ministry (see below for details).

The entire province of Bologna was also declared a red zone from Thursday March 4th, with schools and non-essential shops closed.

As of March 10th dozens of Italian towns or provinces are now under red zone rules, similar to those in a regional red zone.

Other areas are being declared ‘reinforced orange’ or ‘dark orange’ zones, while others have issued local ordinances closing schools.

Here’s an overview of the enhanced restrictions at the time of writing. 

Where are Italy’s local red zones?

  • Lombardy

From March 5th until March 14th, Lombardy’s “reinforced orange zone” has been extended to cover the entire region, including the city of Milan.

This means that non-essential travel is forbidden, and all schools – including elementary schools and nursery schools – are closed.

Play areas within parks are also closed, and travel to second homes is forbidden, according to an ordinance signed by the regional governor on Thursday.

Find more details on the region’s website

  • Emilia Romagna

The provinces of Bologna and Modena have been declared red zones from March 4th until March 21st, with non-essential shops now closed.

The restrictions also mean school closures for everyone from nursery children to university students. Nurseries will be closed from March 6th.

Forlì-Cesena, Ravenna and Rimini have now also been declared red zones.

Reggio Emilia is also under additional ‘dark orange’ restrictions.

Find more details on the region’s website

  • Lazio

There are four red zones in the Lazio region: the municipality of Torrice, in the province of Frosinone, Colleferro and Carpineto in the province of Rome and Roccagorga, province of Latina.

For more information, see the region’s official website

  • Bolzano (South Tyrol)

While the province is technically an orange zone, the local government has effectively upped the restrictions to red.

Bars, restaurants and most shops are are closed, as well as tourist accommodation.

The use of FFP2 masks on public transport and in shops is mandatory for everyone over 12 years of age.

Extra urgent measures were introduced on 8th March and will stay in place until 14th March. They relate to various municipalities, including Merano and Tirolo.

For more information, see the province’s official website

  • Abruzzo:

Several municipalities (towns) are red zones in the provinces of Pescara and Chieti.

Find more details on the region’s website

  • Piedmont

At the moment, there are red zones in eight municipalities, most of which are in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola.

Find more details on the region’s website.

  • Tuscany

From 10th March, the comune of Viareggio has become a red zone. The entire provinces of Siena and Pistoia are red zones from Sunday March 7th. The rest of Tuscany is orange.

See the region’s website for more information

  • Liguria

A ‘dark orange’ zone has been introduced in western areas bordering France, including Sanremo.

  • Sicily

Red zones have been declared in two municipalities (towns) in the province of Palermo .

  • Marche

From Wednesday 10th March, Pesaro Urbino and Fermo enter a red zone. Ancona and Macerata also moved into a red zone in the first week of March.

See the region’s website for more information.

What are the rules in red zones?

Red zones are under a form of lockdown similar to the one declared across Italy in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic: residents are told to stay at home except for essentials and may not travel to other towns without an urgent reason.

Residents are allowed to go out for exercise, but should do so alone and stay close to home.

Bars and restaurants are closed except for takeaway or delivery, while only essential shops and businesses can open. 

READ ALSO: Covid-19: What changes under Italy’s new March emergency decree?

Under an updated national emergency decree in force from March 6th, all schools must close in red zones.

The decree also states that hairdressers in red zones must close.

Rules under local red or orange zone restrictions can vary, and are subject to change,

Residents are advised to check for changes to local rules as well as following updates from the national government. Here’s where to find the latest updates from your local authority.

For further details on the current coronavirus situation in Italy, please see the Health Ministry’s website (in English).

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REVEALED: These are the most polluted towns in Italy

The northern cities of Milan and Turin were named Italy's 'smog capitals' in a new pollution report on Monday which urged the government to take action over poor air quality.

REVEALED: These are the most polluted towns in Italy
Photo: Pixabay

Smog and pollution are choking Italian cities year-round and many towns are exceeding limits on fine particles and other pollution, according to another report from Italian environmental watchdog Legambiente.

The Mal’aria di città (Air pollution in the city) report for 2023, unveiled on Monday, was the latest to warn about the risks to health posed by pollution in many parts of the country.

It found that 25 of 95 cities monitored had violated clean air ordinances by exceeding daily fine particle (PM10) emission limits, which are currently set at no more than 35 days a year with a daily average of over 50 micrograms per cubic metre.

Turin was ranked as the worst offender, exceeding this level on 90 days, closely followed by Milan (84), Asti (79), Modena (75), and Padua and Venice at 70.

These were followed by Cremona, Treviso, Mantua and Rovigo, all of which exceeded limits to a lesser degree.

All of the most polluted cities were in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto, with most within the north-western ‘industrial triangle’.

Some southern cities featured nearer the bottom of the ranking, with Andria (Puglia) and Ragusa (Sicily) exceeding limits on several days, as well as Rome, which overshot the permitted level for one day.

(Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

The average annual rate of PM10 emissions nationwide dropped slightly, by two percent year-on-year, the report found.

“This, however, is not enough to guarantee the health of citizens,” said Stefano Ciafani, president of Legambiente.

He pointed out that the situation looked even worse if air quality in Italian cities were measured against tighter limits under the new European Directive on air quality, in force from 2030, which lowers the PM10 threshold from 35 to 20 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

“Only 23 out of 96 cities (24 percent) would be under these limits,” Ciafani said, while 84 percent would exceed the threshold for PM2.5 and 61 percent for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Italy has repeatedly been reprimanded by the European Union over air quality, and has “persistently and systematically” breached EU recommended limits, the European Court of Justice ruled in 2020.

The north of Italy has long been ranked among the worst areas in Europe for polluted air according to data from the European Environment Agency.

“Air pollution is not only an environmental problem, but also a health problem of great importance,” said Ciafani. “In Europe, it’s the main cause of premature death due to environmental factors.”

“Italy has more than 52,000 deaths per year caused by PM2.5 emissions, equal to a fifth of those recorded throughout the continent,” he said.

The main causes of air pollution in Italian cities are reported to be industry, inefficient domestic heating systems, agricultural practices and, most of all, heavy traffic.

In Italy, cars continue to be by far the most-used means of transport. 65.3 percent of journeys overall are made by car, Legambiante wrote, with the emissions from some 38 million cars choking Italy’s towns and cities.

(Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

Legambiente said “drastic” measures were required to tackle the problem, including funds for more efficient heating systems in homes and public buildings and a major increase in public transport provision.

The group said Italy must “quadruple the availability of public transit, promoting integrated season tickets as done by Germany in 2022”, triple the number of electric buses, create zero-emission zones in town centres, and “create another 16,000 kilometres of cycle paths”.

It also praised local authorities choosing to bring in 30 km/h speed limits in city centres. Councils in Bologna, Turin, Milan and Cesena have all said they plan to implement these limits, following the lead of European cities including Paris and Madrid, despite fierce criticism from Italian transport minister Matteo Salvini.

Legambiente published a petition urging the government to make clean air and more livable cities a priority, saying Italy should follow Paris in attempting to create ’15-minute cities’, in which everyone lives within a quarter of an hour’s walk of vital amenities such as shops and schools and possibly also workplaces.