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Reader question: ‘Can our wedding in Italy go ahead this year?’

As Italy looks at easing many of its coronavirus restrictions, couples hoping to get married in the country this year are asking what it means for their plans.

Reader question: 'Can our wedding in Italy go ahead this year?'
Many couples who picked their rings out for 2020 are still waiting to say ‘I do’ due to the pandemic. Photo by Miguel Medina/AFP

QUESTION: “We’re meant to be coming over from the UK to get married in Italy in July. Do you think there’s any chance it can go ahead? What is the Italian government saying about weddings?”

Since Italy announced the first easing of its strict lockdown rules from April 26th, we’ve received a large number of emails and messages from readers anxious about their wedding plans.

Whether you’re planning a destination wedding, or are an international couple living in Italy, many who had planned to say “I do” in 2020 have already postponed until 2021 and are still unsure what their big day will look like.

A lack of clarity on when certain restrictions will be lifted means everything is still up in the air regarding weddings in Italy this year.

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

Prime Minister Mario Draghi has announced that weddings will, at last, be on the agenda and decisions will be made on protocol and guidelines for ceremonies and receptions on Monday 17th May.

But it’s not quite time to throw the confetti yet, as he urged people to keep patient and reminded that a balance has to be struck between the economy and health.

Although the government is keen to help the wedding industry, a sector valuable to the country, with funds assigned from the Support Decree, the Prime Minister cautioned that weddings are places where people gather, which can cause a spike in new infections.

Weddings are likely to continue following the rules previously set in terms of distancing, mask-wearing and limits on the number of guests allowed.

What are the rules on weddings in Italy right now?

At the moment, wedding receptions – indoor or outdoor – are not allowed.

As there is currently no official protocol or date set for allowing receptions to go ahead, it’s currently impossible to organise an event that is in compliance with the Covid rules.

Both civil and religious wedding ceremonies are allowed, although with restrictions in place including capacity limits for venues, distancing, and the mandatory wearing of masks.

Weddings were allowed to go ahead in Italy with coronavirus restrictions in place in summer 2020. Photo: Miguel MEDINA/AFP

The maximum number of attendees allowed at wedding ceremonies currently depends on the venue and on local rules in the area in which you are getting married. 

But until clarifications on the protocol for both ceremonies and receptions are published, couples remain unable to plan their events with any certainty.

Will Italy allow travel this summer?

This has been the big question for many as wedding guests wonder whether it’s time to book flights and hotels or ask for time off work, perhaps for a second or third time.

The Italian government confirmed in early May that it would allow travel to Italy for any reason, including from countries outside Europe, to restart from mid-May using a new ‘green pass’.

The document would certify that the holder had either been fully vaccinated, had tested negative for coronavirus within the past 48 hours, or had already contracted and recovered from Covid-19, according to the tourism minister. However many details of the scheme are yet to be published.

READ ALSO: ‘We’re exhausted’: What it’s like planning a wedding in Italy during the pandemic

However, whether or not wedding parties and their guests can travel also depends on the rules in their home countries.

Many brides- and grooms-to-be tell us they’re banking on summer 2021 dates for their Italian weddings, reasoning that travel restrictions for many countries were relaxed last year for the holiday season.

Would it be better to postpone our wedding in Italy until 2022?

It is still too early to say exactly what weddings will look like in Italy this year, and any decision to postpone or change wedding plans is a very personal one.

The health situation in Italy remains delicate, and the government does not expect to have most of the population vaccinated until Autumn – meaning it appears likely that testing requirements, masks, distancing and other restrictions will be a feature in any Italian wedding or travel plans this year. 

Capacity may be limited, as was the case at wedding receptions last year (with restrictions changing several times throughout the summer months) and travel to Italy is likely to remain complex, particularly from countries outside the European Union.

If you decide that the ongoing restrictions mean your day will be too different from what you wanted, from a financial point of view it may be better to postpone rather than cancel.

While many couples tell us they were charged fees for postponing last year, more venues and suppliers are now allowing people to change their dates without incurring any penalties.

For more information on the current 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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