Ski resorts in northern Italy's Lombardy region, the epicentre of the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, will reopen from February 15th, regional authorities said on Wednesday.
Lombardy's decision came after ski slopes got the green light
to reopen from the expert panel that advises central government on public health measures.
From February 15th, ski slopes can reopen in regions designated 'yellow zones' under the nation's tiered system of coronavirus restrictions
, according to the government's Technical Scientific Committee (CTS).
It is the first time in the current winter season that skiing will be allowed anywhere in Italy, as slopes across the country have been closed since November under strict coronavirus measures.
In Lombardy, the daily number of skiers will be limited to no more than 30 per cent of the hourly capacity of cable cars and ski-lifts.
The region plans to enforce a number of precautions to limit crowding on the slopes, including a cap on ski pass sales.
Which other regions will allow skiing to restart from February 15th?
Skiing could resume next week in other mountain regions, as long as they remain in the lower virus-risk 'yellow zone' areas.
The decision is down to each regional authority.
The health ministry can also change regions' designated zone based on the level of contagion risk.
The ministry makes its regional assessments based on data from a weekly monitoring report issued on Fridays.
Under current measures
, most of the country is yellow except for Umbria, Sicily, and the autonomous province of Bolzano.
But the regional map doesn't tell the whole story.
Many towns and provinces have now declared 'red zone' restrictions after localised spikes in cases.
That's the case for hotspots in Umbria, Molise, Abruzzo, Tuscany and Campania as well as the entire autonomous province of Bolzano, which are effectively under temporary lockdown despite being surrounded by yellow or orange zones.
Italy is also due to review its ban on non-essential travel between regions, which stays in place until at least February 15th.
Italy is still in the throes of the pandemic, with many health experts cautioning against
In the past 24 hours, nearly 13,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 336 people died from Covid-19.
The latest figures brought total infection numbers in Italu to almost 2.67 million, and the overall death toll to 92,338.