What are the rules in Italy’s Covid-19 ‘orange zones’?

Italy's orange zones aren't in full lockdown, but the rules remain strict. Here's what you need to know if your region is one of them.

What are the rules in Italy's Covid-19 'orange zones'?
Serving takeaway coffee in Rome, which is due to become an 'orange' zone. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

All but three of Italy’s 20 regions are currently medium-high risk zone arancione (orange zones) under the latest update to the regional rules, effective from April 19th.

MAP: Which zone is your region in under Italy’s lockdown?

Here are the key things to know if your region is one of them.

How and when are the zones decided?

The Italian health ministry bases its decision on a weekly report from the country’s top health institute, which analyses the latest incidence rate, transmission numbers, hospital occupancy and other factors to assess the risk level in each region.

The data is announced every Friday afternoon, with rule changes taking effect from Monday morning. 

Once a region is declared an orange zone, it usually remains one for at least two weeks.

Exceptionally, all of Italy will become a red zone over the Easter weekend from April 3rd to 5th.

What are the rules in orange zones?

You can circulate freely within your municipality (town), but it is forbidden to move between municipalities except for essential reasons.

If you leave your municipality, you must complete a self-declaration form justifying your journey.

There is an exception for residents of small towns (5,000 inhabitants or fewer), who are allowed to travel freely to other municipalities within a 30km radius, so long as they avoid the provincial capital.

Schools remain open, with partial distance learning for older pupils, but local authorities can order schools to close and move learning online.

Checking pupils’ temperature at the school gates. Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP

Bars, cafes, restaurants, pastry shops and other food businesses are closed. Home delivery is still allowed, and takeaway is permitted until 10pm.

Museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres and concert halls are closed.

Gyms are closed and contact sports are forbidden. But you can continue to exercise outdoors, with social distancing. 

All shops can remain open, along with hairdressers and beauticians.

Religious services can continue to take place, with social distancing and other precautions.

Travel to a second home (including in a different town or region) is allowed only if you can prove you owned or rented the property before January 14th 2021, and if no one else lives there. This means new short-term rentals are not permitted, and you can’t stay with relatives.

You can visit family and friends who live in the same town once a day, between the hours of 5am to 10pm. No more than two adults, plus children under 14, should go at once.

Visiting the homes of family and friends outside your municipality is not allowed.

Are there any other rules to know about?

Yes: a 10pm-5am curfew remains in place nationwide, and all non-essential travel between regions is banned.

Face masks are compulsory in all public spaces, both indoors and outdoors. 

Individual regions, provinces or municipalities may also set their own restrictions on top of the standard rules. Check your regione or comune‘s official website for the latest updates in your area: find where to look 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).

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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”.