UPDATE: Italy announces further Covid restrictions in five regions as contagion rate rises

Italy's government has tightened restrictions, with three more Italian regions becoming higher-risk 'orange' zones and two regions declared red zones from Monday.

UPDATE: Italy announces further Covid restrictions in five regions as contagion rate rises
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The health ministry has published an official ordinance declaring that the regions of Piedmont, Lombardy and Marche become 'orange' zones under Italy's tiered system of coronavirus rules.

Basilicata this week reported the highest contagion rate of any region, and has now been declared a red zone.

Molise, where there are already 33 municipalities in lockdown, was also classified as a red zone.

Sardinia meanwhile is set to become Italy's first lower-risk 'white zone'.

The changes come into effect on Monday, March 1st.

MAP: Which zone is your region in under Italy's coronavirus rules?

Italy in January announced the new white zone classification, along with red, orange, and yellow.
Regions classified under this band are exempt from restrictions in other zones, including the 10pm curfew and 6pm closing time for bars and restaurants.
However, the final set of rules in place in each region depends on the local authority.
In Sardinia's case, the regional governor signed an ordinance on Sunday stating that the curfew has been moved back to 11.30pm, and that restaurants must close at 11pm instead of 6pm. Bars must close at 9pm.

These measures are in force in in Sardinia from Monday March 1st until March 15th (excluding any towns covered by additonal mayors' ordinances).

In orange zones, bars and restaurants are closed and as people cannot leave their towns of residence unless for work reasons or emergencies.

People in the highest-risk red zones are told not to move around within their town except for work, study, health or other urgent reasons, while non-essential shops are also closed.
The changes are based on data from the weekly coronavirus monitoring report issued by Italy's health ministry and the Higher Health Institute (ISS)

READ ALSO: Where and how much are coronavirus cases rising in Italy?

Friday's report stated that the general level of risk nationwide had worsened for the fourth consecutive week.

Ten regions have an Rt (contagion rate) greater than 1, while Basilicata has an Rt over 1.25.

“Further mitigation measures are urgently needed across the nation, and timely mitigation-containment measures are needed in the areas of greatest spread to prevent health services being overwhelmed,” the report stated.

It said a “drastic reduction in physical interaction between people” was needed.

“It is fundamentally important that people avoid all contact with people other than those they live with that are not strictly necessary, and stay at home as mush as possible,” it said.

The number of regions where the number of Covid patients in intensive care was above the critical threshold and had increased from five to eight, data showed.

The report also found that the average age of people who had tested positive was falling, and is now at 44.

Italy on Friday was also awaiting for details of the measures to be included in a revised emergency decree, due by March 5th.
So far it looks likely that the regional tiered system will stay in place, along with localised lockdowns in dozens of towns and provinces affected by outbreaks of more contagious variants of the coronavirus.

See full details of the current classifications and the rules in each zone hereFor further details on the current coronavirus situation in Italy, please see the Health Ministry's website (in English).

Member comments

  1. I think it’s time for a vaccine passport or certificate that is counterfeit proof, that will allow free access across Schengen borders.
    The economy needs to fire up again, to save livelihoods and families, and vaccinated individuals are extremely low-risk. We all drive, fly, eat and drink unhealthily sometimes. Life is not risk-free, and even if it was – how utterly boring that would be. Life is for living….

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Living in Italy: Five tips to help you survive the local pharmacy

From ear piercings to flu jabs, Italian ‘farmacie’ are among the most useful stores in the country, but they’re also very odd places. Here are our tips on getting through the pharmacy experience.

Living in Italy: Five tips to help you survive the local pharmacy

Italian pharmacies aren’t just stores selling prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

As a customer, you’ll find all sorts of natural remedies, basic health supplies and personal care items on their shelves. 

You’ll also be able to receive basic medical services (for instance, blood pressure checks, Covid tests and flu jabs) and some non-health-related ones (like getting your ears pierced!) in most branches. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I still get the flu vaccine in Italy? 

But, while being extremely useful stores, Italian farmacie (pronunciation available here) are also peculiar places and their set of unwritten rules and solidified traditions may well throw off newcomers.. 

So here are five tips that might help you complete your first expeditions to your local pharmacy without making a fool of yourself.

1 – Decipher your doctor’s scribbles before your trip

Much like some of their foreign colleagues, Italian GPs have a penchant for writing prescriptions that no one else is actually able to read. 

We might never find out why doctors seem so intent on making ancient hieroglyphs fashionable again, but their calligraphic efforts will surely get in the way of you trying to buy whatever medicine you need to survive. 

To avoid hiccups, make sure you know exactly what you need to get. If in doubt, reach out to your GP to confirm.

Don’t rely on pharmacists being able to figure out your doctor’s handwriting because they often have no clue either.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to make a doctor’s appointment in Italy 

Pharmacy in Codogno, near Milan

In most small towns and rural areas local pharmacies have very ‘thin’ opening hours. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

2 – Double-check the pharmacy’s opening times

If you’re from the UK or the US, you might be used to pharmacies being open from 8am to 10pm on weekdays and having slightly reduced opening times over the weekend. 

You can forget about that in Italy. In big cities, most pharmacies will shut no later than 8pm on weekdays and will be closed on either Saturdays or Sundays.

READ ALSO: Coughs, colds and flu: What to say and do if you fall sick in Italy 

As for small towns or villages, opening times will have a nice Middle Ages vibe to them, with local stores remaining shut on weekends and keeping their doors open from 9am to 12.30pm and then from 3.30pm to 7.30pm on weekdays. 

So always check your local pharmacy’s hours before leaving home and, should their times not be available online, call them up. An awkward phone conversation with the pharmacist is still preferable to a wasted trip.

3 – Get the ‘numerino

Some Italian pharmacies have a ticket-dispensing machine with the aim of regulating the queue – a concept which is still foreign to many across the country.

All customers are expected to get a numbered paper ticket (the famed ‘numerino’) from the above machine and wait for their number to be called to walk up to the pharmacist’s desk. 

Now, the law of the land categorically prohibits customers from getting within a five-metre radius of the desk without a numerino

Also, trying to break that rule may result in a number of disdainful sideways glances from local customers.

4 – You cannot escape the in-store conversations, so embrace them 

Pharmacies aren’t just stores. They’re a cornerstone of Italian life and locals do a good deal of socialising on the premises. 

After all, the waiting times are often a bit dispiriting, so how can you blame them for killing the time?

Small pharmacy in Italy

Pharmacies are an essential part of Italian life and culture. Photo by Marco SABADIN / AFP

You might think that locals won’t want to talk to you because you’re a foreigner or don’t know the language too well, but you’ll marvel at how chatty some are.

While chit-chat might not be your cup of tea, talking with locals might help you improve your Italian, so it’s worth a shot.

5 – “Vuoi scaricarlo?”

The pharmacist finally gets you what you need and you’re now thinking that your mission is over. Well, not yet.

Before charging you for the items in question, the pharmacist will ask you whether you’d like to ‘scaricarli’ (literally, ‘offload them’) or not, which, no matter how good your Italian is, will not make any sense to you.

What the pharmacist is actually asking you is whether you want to link the purchase to your codice fiscale (tax code). 

READ ALSO: Codice fiscale: How to get your Italian tax code (and why you need one)   

That’s because Italy offers residents a 19-percent discount on some health-related expenses, which can be claimed through one’s annual income declaration (dichiarazione dei redditi) by attaching the receipts of all the eligible payments.

Whether you want to scaricare or not, this is the last obstacle before you can make your way back home.