The region of Campania, which includes Naples, along with Emilia Romagna and Molise will move to the medium-risk “orange zone” category as of Sunday, the ministry said.
This will mean the closure of bars and restaurants as well as harsher travel restrictions, as people in “orange” areas cannot leave their towns of residence unless for work reasons or emergencies.
The decisions were based on the weekly coronavirus monitoring report issued by Italy's health ministry and the Higher Health Institute (ISS).
No white or red zones
The northern Italian region of Valle d'Aosta had been widely expected to become Italy's first 'white zone' as weekly health data report showed a low infection rate in the area for a thrd consecutive week.
But the region remains yellow, as health authorities said several other indicators were not yet low enough for a further downgrade.
Italy in January announced the new white zone classification, along with red, orange, and yellow, under its tiered system of restrictions.
EXPLAINED: What are Italy's new coronavirus 'white zones'?
This would make it possible for gyms, swimming pools, cinemas, theatres and ski slopes to reopen.
However no region has yet qualified to be placed under the lower restrictions.
A health ministry spokesperson said there were no plans to enforce any “red” zone regional lockdowns.
A number of localised lockdowns
have however been enforced in several provinces affected by outbreaks of more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
Rising concerns about the spread of these new virus strains have prompted a national debate about the need for more extensive measures.
Newly-installed Prime Minister Mario Draghi pledged this week to use “all means” to fight the pandemic, however his government has not yet given any details of its planned coronavirus strategy
Around 3.3 million people have to date been vaccinated in Italy, out of a total population of around 60 million, health ministry figures showed Friday.
See full details of the current classifications and the rules in each zone here.
For further details on the current coronavirus situation in Italy, please see the Health Ministry's website (in English).