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Italy to remain in partial lockdown until end of April

Coronavirus restrictions in most of Italy that closed restaurants, shops and museums through Easter will be extended throughout April, the government said on Wednesday, with all the country's regions either 'red' or 'orange' zones.

Italy to remain in partial lockdown until end of April
Italy's regions will remain under tightened restrictions throughout April. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

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But the government reserves the right to review the rules again before April 30th, not ruling out “an easing of measures” if the latest health data warrants it, according to the latest emergency decree approved late on Wednesday by the government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

The new decree, which is due to replace the one currently in force until April 6th, largely extends the measures already in place – notably the system of tiered restrictions based on an assessment of the Covid-19 risk in each region of Italy.

Between April 7th and April 30th all of Italy’s regions will be considered either red or orange zones, the two highest-risk categories, the government said.

That means no travel between towns or regions, no dining in restaurants or bars, and no museums reopening for at least another month.

EXPLAINED:

However, after Easter schools will be allowed to reopen up to the first year of secondary school (prima media), even in red zones, in an easing of the restrictions on the highest-risk areas. 

Pupils in higher grades will continue to have all their lessons remotely in red zones, and 25-50 percent of them online in orange zones. 

Meanwhile people in orange zones, who are confined to their own municipalities, will continue to be allowed to visit friends or family at home once a day so long as they stay within their town.

Visits within the same region have been temporarily authorized everywhere in Italy over the Easter weekend, but stricter limits will resume after the holiday, with no socializing allowed in red zones. 

EXPLAINED: What are Italy’s rules for travel over Easter?

Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

While the text of the new decree has not yet been released, the government outlined the main measures in a statement after its cabinet meeting on Wednesday night. 

They include a requirement making vaccines compulsory for healthcare workers. Anyone refusing to be vaccinating can be reassigned, where possible, in roles away from the public. If not, their pay will be suspended.

Two weeks ago, on March 15th, new restrictions went into effect on three-quarters of the country. Health Minister Roberto Speranza said then that the clampdown might allow a relaxation of measures in the second half of spring.

Italy recorded 467 new deaths on Wednesday linked to Covid-19 and 23,904 new infections. Nearly 110,000 people have died in Italy since the coronavirus hit the country over a year ago.

The government has already tried to ensure that Italians do not congregate or travel during Easter, with the entire country considered a high-risk red zone over the weekend of April 3rd-5th.

In a red zone, residents have to stay home except for work, health or other essential reasons.

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

For the moment, no regions are considered yellow or white – the two lowest-risk categories – which would allow seated dining in restaurants until 6:00 pm and more freedom to travel.

The Italian Health Ministry decides which regions are in which zones based on weekly health data released every Friday afternoon. Once a region has been declared a red or orange zone, it must remain one for at least two weeks, with the tightened restrictions coming into force from Monday morning.

While the classification is usually based on a complex assessment of 21 different risk factors, any region that has a weekly incidence rate of more than 250 new cases per 100,000 residents automatically becomes a red zone.

Member comments

  1. I know in one popular tourist region, 30% of the restaurants will not be able to open. That’s a relatively wealthy region. Estimates are a much higher number in the cities. The lockdowns were bad enough, but what one Michelin star restaurant owner tells me, the opening and closing three time is what killed them.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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