19 unforgettable photos from a year of lockdowns in Italy

The anniversary of Italy’s strict nationwide coronavirus lockdown comes as the country is considering new measures and the death toll hits 100,000.

19 unforgettable photos from a year of lockdowns in Italy
Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI/AFP

On March 9th 2020, Italy became the first country other than China to declare a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

Former Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte made the announcement in a late-night televised address as the coronavirus crisis, which suddenly exploded in the north of the country in late February, was quickly worsening.

Several northern Italian regions had already been placed under lockdown on March 7th, and Italy had already shut down schools and museums in response to the crisis.

The strict lockdown in Italy lasted almost three months.

While all non-essential businesses were shut down and police patrols instructed people to remain indoors, masks were not yet mandatory or even recommended for most people as the disease which came to be called Covid-19 was still little understood.

READ ALSO: Eight things the year-long Covid crisis has taught us about Italy

On the day Italy’s first lockdown was announced, the number of known coronavirus infections in Italy was around 8,000 and the death toll was 463.

A year later, Italy has just passed the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths and there have been more than three million confirmed cases in the country.

Italy has not declared another nationwide lockdown. The country has instead been under a tiered system of regional rules since November.

However, the government is this week considering a second nationwide lockdown, potentially of 3-4 weeks, or other tightened measures as cases are now rising sharply again in the country.

READ ALSO: Lockdown by next week? These are the new Covid restrictions Italy is considering 

Experts warn that a third wave of infections in Italy is now being fuelled by more infectious new strains of the virus.

A potential second lockdown is a prospect no one will relish, with last year’s closure still fresh in our memories.

Here’s a look back at some of the most striking and unforgettable images we’ve published on The Local during the past year of reporting on lockdowns and other restrictions.

Italian police officers patrol the road into the small northern Italian town of Codogno on February 23, 2020, after it became the centre of a new coronavirus outbreak and worldwide fears over the epidemic spiralled. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA/AFP)

READ ALSO: Codogno one year on: How is the first Italian town hit by coronavirus faring?

A picture taken on March 8, 2020 shows an empty road leading to Milan’s Linate Airport, after millions of people were placed under forced quarantine in northern Italy. The government approved drastic measures in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI/AFP)

Residents line up at a safety distance as they wait to shop at a supermarket near Milan on March 11, 2020 – a day after Italy imposed unprecedented national restrictions on 60 million people. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA AFP)
A man wearing a face mask walks by the Spanish Steps at Rome’s deserted Piazza di Spagna on March 12, 2020, after Italy shut all stores except for pharmacies and food shops in a desperate bid to halt the spread of coronavirus. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)
A municipal worker sprays disinfectant around the Rialto Bridge in Venice on March 13th, 2020. (Photo by MARCO SABADIN / AFP)
Pope Francis prays in an empty St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican on March 27th. (Photo by Yara NARDI/POOL/AFP)
A man walks his dog in front of the Colosseum in central Rome on April 3, 2020, during the ongoing coroanvirus lockdown. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)
A resident uses pot lids to join in a “noise flash mob” in Rome, aimed at breaking the city’s silence during lockdown. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO/AFP)
The waters of Venice canals turned clear during lockdown as a result of the stoppage of motorboat traffic. (Photo by ANDREA PATTARO/AFP)

MORE PHOTOS:Silent squares and clear waters as Venice stands empty

Girls play tennis on the rooftops of their apartment buildings in Liguria on April 19, 2020. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP)
Residents display Italian flags in the Garbatella district of Rome on April 25, 2020 during a Liberation Day musical flashmob, with people singing Italian partisan song ‘Bella Ciao’ from their windows and balconies. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
A child rides a scooter as grass is seen growing between cobblestones in Rome’s Piazza Navona on April 29, 2020 during the country’s ongoing lockdown. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)
A woman waves the Italian flag on May 4, 2020 in Milan as Italy starts to ease its lockdown – the world’s longest at this point. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)
This photo taken on June 25, 2020 shows Italian riot police standing guard below apartment buildings in Mondragone, southern Italy, placed back under a local lockdown due to an outbreak of coronavirus infections, triggering protests and clashes between the residents and other locals. (Photo by STRINGER/ANSA/AFP)
Gondoliers and customers wear masks in Venice on June 12, 2020 as the country eases its lockdown to allow summer tourism. (Photo by ANDREA PATTARO/AFP)

A waiter in Florence passes a glass of wine into a building through a buchetta del vino, or wine window – a Renaissance-era tradition revived during lockdown. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
Two 12-year-old students sit outside their school in Turin in November 2020, in protest against closures amid renewed coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)
Military vehicles patrol Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo on December 31, 2020, as a 10pm-7am curfew is implemented as part of a raft of temporary lockdown measures, intended to ward off a third wave of coronanvirus infections. (Photo by Tiziana FABI/AFP)
A Venetian resident wearing a carnival costume parades at St. Mark’s Square in Venice on February 16, 2021, despite the carnival officiallu being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by François-Xavier MARIT/AFP)

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Italy lifts mask mandate for private sector workers

Masks will no longer be required in the workplace but Italian companies will have the right to impose restrictions for employees deemed "at risk".

Italy lifts mask mandate for private sector workers

Representatives from the Italian Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health and all major national unions collectively signed off on Thursday a new “shared protocol” (protocollo condiviso) for the implementation of anti-Covid measures in private workplaces. 

Although the full text of the bill will only be made available to the public sometime next week, portions of the document have already been released to the media, thus disclosing the government’s next steps in the fight against the virus.

The most relevant update concerns face masks, which will no longer be mandatory in private workplaces. 

However, the text specifies, FFP2 face masks remain “an important protective item aimed at safeguarding workers’ health”. As such, employers will have the right to autonomously impose the use of face coverings on categories of workers considered “at risk”.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Notably, face coverings may remain mandatory for those working in “indoor settings shared by multiple employees” or even in “outdoor settings where social distancing may not be practicable”. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions (soggetti fragili) may also be subject to such rules, which, it is worth reminding, are left to the employer’s discretion. 

Alongside mask-related restrictions, employers will also have the right to have their staff undergo temperature checks prior to entering the workplace. In such cases, anyone with a body temperature higher than 37.5C will be denied access to the workplace and will be asked to temporarily self-isolate pending further indications from their own doctor.

In line with previous measures, companies will be required to continue supplying sanitising products free of charge and regulate access to common areas (canteens, smoking areas, etc.) so as to avoid gatherings.

Additionally, employers will be advised to keep incentivising smart working (lavoro agile), as it has proved to be “a valuable tool to curb infection, especially for at-risk individuals”.

Provided that the country’s infection curve registers no significant changes, the updated protocol will remain in place until October 31st, when it will yet again be reviewed by the relevant governmental and social parties. 

With the latest round of measures, Italy has now scrapped all Covid-related health measures, except the requirement to wear face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings, and self-isolation provisions for those testing positive. 

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

Italy’s infection curve has been rising significantly since the beginning of June. From June 1st to June 14th, Covid’s R (spreading rate) rate rose back over 1 for the first time since April 8th. Also, from June 17th to June 23rd, the virus’s incidence rate was 504 cases every 100,000 residents, up by 62 per cent on the previous week.

According to Claudio Mastroianni, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Sapienza University of Rome, “with 25 per cent of daily Covid swabs coming back positive and a R rate over 1, the infection curve will likely rise at least until mid-July”.

However, albeit acknowledging the rising number of positive cases, Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa has so far categorically excluded the possibility of re-introducing lapsed Covid measures, saying that it’ll be a “restriction-free summer”.