Schools to close in Covid 'red zones' as Italian PM signs new emergency decree

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Schools to close in Covid 'red zones' as Italian PM signs new emergency decree
Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Italy’s prime minister Mario Draghi on Tuesday evening signed off on a revised coronavirus emergency decree which includes measures closing schools in areas with a high contagion rate.


The new decree will be in force from March 6th to April 6th, Health Minister Roberto Speranza stated at a press conference at Rome’s Palazzo Chigi.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi was not present at the announcement.

Most existing restrictions will stay the same under the latest decree, but one of the new measures included is the closure of all schools in high-risk 'red zone' areas due to concerns about the spread of new coronavirus variants.

Until now, only secondary schools in red zones were closed.

Regional authorities will now have new discretion to suspend face-to-face teaching in areas within lower-risk orange and yellow regions where the coronavirus situation is particularly bad

"The British variant has a particular ability to affect younger groups,” Speranza said.

“This has led us to determine that in red zones all schools will move to distance learning, as well as in areas where the virus rate is equal to or greater than 250 per 100 thousand inhabitants" per seven days.

New data from the national ISS health institute revealed that 54 percent of coronavirus cases in Italy were now of the so-called British variant, which is considered more contagious.

Speranza also confirmed that the current regional tiered system of restrictions would stay in place.


"We believe that differentiating between areas is the right way, because it allows us to give the most suitable answer to each part" of the country, Speranza said.

The regional classifications will continue to be revised weekly based on monitoring reports from the Health Ministry and Higher Health Institute (ISS), with updates announced each Friday or Saturday now coming into force from Monday.

Other changes under the decree include allowing cinemas and theatres to reopen in ‘yellow’ zones from March 27th.

Venues cannot be filled to more than 25% of their maximum capacity: "up to 400 spectators outdoors or 200 indoors per room," a government press release clarified.

Museums in yellow zones will also be allowed to open at weekends, not just Monday-Friday as is currently the case.

Hairdressers and barbers will be closed in red zones.

Gyms, swimming pools and ski resorts remain closed.

There were no changes to Italy's current travel restrictions.

The ban on non-essential travel between all regions remains in place, as does the nationwide 10pm-5am curfew.

Find all of The Local's latest updates on the coronavirus situation in Italy here.


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