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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.
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.
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.
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.