Sardinia, Italy’s only ‘white’ zone region, has been reclassified as orange amid concerns about rising coronavirus case numbers.
The region of Molise meanwhile is has been downgraded from red to orange as the situation has improved, the health ministry said in a statement.
The changes will come into effect on Monday, March 22nd – meaning all of Italy will be in either the red or orange zone, both of which mean significant restrictions on movement.
Most of Italy effectively went back under lockdown on Monday with new restrictions under the country’s tiered system of coronavirus rules.
The island of Sardinia had been the only region not subject to these restrictions. Since March 1st, it has been the only part of the country where bars and restaurants could open at night, and most restrictions had been relaxed,
But Health Minister Roberto Speranza ordered Sardinia moved to a medium-risk “orange” category, effective Monday, following a spike in its R value.
The R value measures how fast the virus is spreading, and any value above 1 means a growing epidemic. Sardinia’s weekly reading rose from 0.89 to 1.08, prompting the tougher restrictions rules.
Nevertheless, Sardinia is still doing better than the rest of Italy, with only 43 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents, compared to a national average of more than 250.
Friday’s update also confirmed that nine regions and autonomous provinces will remain red until at least Easter: Campania, Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Marche, Piedmont, Puglia, Veneto, and Trentino-Alto Adige.
Other regions could have their classifications reviewed in the next update on Friday March 26th.
More than 104,000 people with coronavirus have died in Italy over the past 13 months, and variants are fuelling a third wave of the virus that is putting hospitals under renewed stress.
Hospital wards have reached critical occupancy levels in 13 out of 21 regions, according to a weekly report from the ISS health institute and the health ministry.
Coronavirus risks increased “for the seventh week in a row,” the report said, stressing the need for continued “maximum level” mitigation measures.
Under updated rules, every region with more than 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to official weekly health data, will now be automatically placed in the highest-risk red zone.
Red zone rules mean the closure of all schools, restaurants, bars, non-essential shops and hairdressers as well as tight restriction on movement. Anyone leaving the house will need to justify doing so using a self-declaration form.
In the orange zone, shops and schools can remain open and movement within your region is permitted.
Italy’s new restrictions are in place until Easter, when the whole nation will be placed in a ‘red’ zone over the weekend of April 3-5, government officials have confirmed.
The Easter restrictions will not apply in white zones, the prime minister’s office confirmed on Friday.
Find out where to get the latest information for your local area here.
Please note The Local is not able to advise on specific situations. For more information on the restrictions please see the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).