Health Minister Roberto Speranza is on Friday evening preparing to sign an ordinance moving several regions from the ‘red’ to ‘orange’ zone thanks to an overall improvement in the contagion rate nationwide.
Calabria, Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont and Tuscany will turn orange from Monday, the health ministry confirmed.
Sardinia will meanwhile move from orange to red, as the situation has worsened locally on the island – which was until recently Italy’s only low-restriction ‘white zone’.
Campania, Valle D’Aosta and Puglia are to remain red zones.
This means that, from Monday April 12th, the majority of Italy’s regions will be orange zones, where residents face slightly less stringent rules and shops can reopen. However, non-essential travel between towns is still restricted, while bars, restaurants remain shut except for takeaway or delivery service.
“Stricter measures have resulted in an initial flattening of the (contagion) curve, but the situation is still highly complicated, with a significant virus spread rate and intensive care units full,” Speranza told a press conference on Friday afternoon.
Italy’s coronavirus Rt reproduction number has fallen to 0.92, down from 0.98 last week, according to the weekly coronavirus monitoring report released by Italy’s health ministry and Higher Health Institute (ISS).
The incidence rate of new cases has fallen to 185 cases for every 100,000 inhabitants, down from 232 last week, the report said.
Despite bar and restaurant owners becoming increasingly angry about forced shutdowns, with some of them clashing with police in Rome this week, the reopening of these businesses is not expected before April 30th.
Italy is one of the countries worst-hit by the pandemic, with more than 113,500 deaths, including some 31,500 in Lombardy, the region home to its business and fashion capital, Milan.
New infections have dropped by more than 11 percent in the week ending April 6th, but intensive care units are saturated, according to the GIMBE health think tank.
Meanwhile, the country is struggling with its vaccination programme.
To date, it has administered 12.3 million doses and fully vaccinated 3.8 million people, little more than 6 percent of the total population.
On Thursday, Italian prime minister Mario Draghi warned regional governments they must improve vaccination efforts if they want to see the restrictive measures lifted.
He said the country’s vaccination effort must now focus on over-75s, as the country’s death toll remains one of Europe’s highest.
Draghi also attacked ‘queue-jumpers’ taking jabs who were not in priority groups.
Italian media reported that up to 30 percent of vaccines in some regions appeared to have been incorrectly given to people who were not in priority groups.
Investigators concerned about mafia infiltration have ordered four regions – Sicily, Calabria, Campania and Valle D’Aosta – to turn over vaccination data and explain how they prioritised the doses.
Emergency commissioner General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo on Thursday stressed that he would not revise Italy’s target of administering half a million doses daily by the end of April, despite the current average number of daily doses being around 240,000.