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Schools, restaurants, gyms, travel: Here’s Italy’s new timetable for reopening

When will gyms reopen, and can we travel to or within Italy? Here are the key dates in Italy's roadmap for easing the coronavirus restrictions.

Schools, restaurants, gyms, travel: Here's Italy's new timetable for reopening
bars and restaurants reopened in Rm this week as the first restrictions were eased. Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

This article was updated on April 29th.

Italy on April 26th began the first cautious easing of some of its coronavirus-related rules under an updated emergency decree, and further changes are planned in the coming weeks and months.

Here’s a quick guide to what will reopen and when, according to the new decree.

From April 26th: Schools, outdoor dining, travel between ‘yellow’ zones

Many of Italy’s current restrictions were relaxed from April 26th, in lower-risk ‘yellow’ zone’ areas only.

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

All schools and universities will be able to resume in-person teaching in yellow and orange zones. 

Restaurants are allowed to reopen in yellow zones for both lunch and dinner – with seating at outdoor tables only.

Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Cinemas and theatre shows are allowed outdoors. Indoor showings can also go ahead, but will have their capacity limited to 50 percent. Masks and distancing are required.

Museums and galleries can also reopen in yellow zones.

Outdoor sports are once again allowed from this date.

Travel is allowed again between yellow zone regions, and the rule against visiting private homes has been relaxed:

“From April 26th to June 15th 2021, in the yellow zone, four people are allowed to travel to a single inhabited private house once a day during curfew hours, the government stated. This number does not include children and is “in addition to those already living in the house”.

Non-essential travel to and from higher-risk regions is possible using a new domestic ‘immunity pass’.

May 15th: Malls and outdoor swimming pools reopen

Shopping malls, which currently are allowed to open on weekdays only, will be open on weekends again.

Lidos, beach clubs and and outdoor pools are also to reopen in mid-May, with some safety restrictions still in place, including limits on the number of customers allowed.

June 1st: Gyms reopen, indoor restaurant service resumes

Gyms and other indoor fitness facilities and will have to wait until June for reopening, the health minister confirmed.

Sports facilities will have to follow safety guidelines, including limiting the number of people allowed to exercise at once, requiring face masks in communal areas and asking users to book training in advance.

READ ALSO:

Bars and restaurants can also serve patrons indoors from this date – but only from 5am to 6pm, so dinner service will only be allowed outdoors.

Stadiums meanwhile will reopen to the public at 25 percent capacity. The number of spectators, however, cannot exceed 1,000 in open-air venues and 500 in indoor venues.

July 1st: Conferences and trade fairs restart

Large trade fairs open to the public can go ahead from July, the health minister stated – good news for those planning to attend postponed major events like the Vinitaly wine fair.

Conference venues, theme parks and spas can also resume operations.

What doesn’t change:

The nationwide 10pm curfew remains in place, despite calls for it to be moved to 11pm to accommodate dining in restaurants in yellow zones. The government said the rule will be re-evaluated in May.

Many restrictions are expected to remain in areas designated higher-risk red and orange zones, and rules will still depend on local health data.

What about travel?

The government has not yet announced any plans to relax the current restrictions on travel to Italy..

The tourism minister last week suggested June 2nd as a possible date for restarting non-essential travel, however this has not been confirmed.

Testing and quarantine are currently required for almost all arrivals, and these requirements are expected to stay in place for many travellers as Italy’s vaccine rollout remains slower than in countries such as the UK and US.

For more information on the restrictions please see the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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