Covid-19: Cinemas and theatres set to reopen in Italy next month

Cinemas and theatres in Italy's 'yellow' zones could reopen on March 27th, the culture minister announced on Friday.

Covid-19: Cinemas and theatres set to reopen in Italy next month
A general view shows the Teatro alla Scala during The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony in 2019 in Milan. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

In a post on Twitter, culture minister Dario Franceschini said the government's technical scientific committee (CTS), which advises on public health measures, had given the green light for the potential reopening of cinemas and theatres at the end of next month.

Franceschini said the reopening would coincide with World Theatre Day, and added that museums in yellow zones would be allowed to open at weekends.

READ ALSO: Three regions turn 'orange' as Italy updates coronavirus zone restrictions

At the moment, museums and archeological sites in Italy can open on weekdays in yellow' zones only. Cinemas and theatres are closed nationwide.

However the final decision on whether the reopenings go ahead will come when Italian prime minister Mario Draghi announces the contents of the nextt emercendy decree, due next week.

READ ALSO: What will change under Italy's next emergency decree in March?

The decree is expected to be approved by March 5th and will stay in place until April 6th, health minister Roberto Speranza said.

The CTS said that reopenings would depend on the contagion curve, and would require restrictions including the mandatory use of masks, distancing, temperature checks and increased sanitation.

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Former Italian PM faces investigation over Covid response

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte is set to undergo a judicial inquiry over claims his government's response to the Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020 was too slow.

Former Italian PM faces investigation over Covid response

Prosecutors in Bergamo, the northern city that was one of the epicentres of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, targeted Conte after wrapping up their three-year inquiry, according to media reports.

Conte, now president of the populist Five Star movement, was prime minister from 2018 to 2021 and oversaw the initial measures taken to halt the spread of what would become a global pandemic.

Investigating magistrates suspect that Conte and his government underestimated the contagiousness of Covid-19 even though available data showed that cases were spreading rapidly in Bergamo and the surrounding region.

They note that in early March 2020 the government did not create a “red zone” in two areas hit hardest by the outbreak, Nembro and Alzano Lombardo, even though security forces were ready to isolate the zone from the rest of the country.

READ ALSO: ‘Not offensive’: Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

Red zones had already been decreed in late February for around a dozen other nearby municipalities including Codogno, the town where the initial Covid case was reportedly found.

Conte’s health minister Roberto Speranza as well as the president of the Lombardy region, Attilio Fontana, are also under investigation, the reports said.

Bergamo prosecutors allege that according to scientific experts, earlier quarantines could have saved thousands of lives.

Conte, quoted by Il Corriere della Sera and other media outlets, said he was “unworried” by the inquiry, saying his government had acted “with the utmost commitment and responsibility during one of the most difficult moments of our republic.”

READ ALSO: Italy’s constitutional court upholds Covid vaccine mandate as fines kick in

Similar cases have been lodged against officials elsewhere, alleging that authorities failed to act quickly enough against a virus that has killed an estimated 6.8 million people worldwide since early 2020.

In January, France’s top court threw out a case against former health minister Agnes Buzyn, a trained doctor, over her allegedly “endangering the lives of others” by initially playing down the severity of Covid-19.