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Everything that changes about life in Italy in May 2021

From free Covid testing to the tax payment freeze, we take a look at the changes in Italy this May that could affect you.

Everything that changes about life in Italy in May 2021
The spring tradition of decorating Rome's Spanish Steps with azaleas is back this year, after it was interrupted last year during Italy's Covid-19 lockdown. Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP.

More easing of Covid restrictions

Italy on April 26th began the first cautious easing of some of its coronavirus-related rules, and further changes are planned in mid-May. 

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

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

In mid-May the government will also review the 10pm curfew rule which is currently in place nationwide.

Gyms and indoor dining will have to wait until June 1st, according to the government’s timetable.

Italy’s government has not yet said when it plans to start lifting the travel restrictions.

Coronavirus home test kits go on sale, plus more free testing

Shops in Italy will be able to sell Covid-19 home testing kits to the public from May.

The autotest or ‘self-test’ was approved in a recent update by the health ministry and is expected to go on sale in pharmacies, supermarkets and other shops.

The health ministry also gave the green light for pharmacies to begin performing rapid antigen swab tests.

A passenger is tested for coronavirus at Milan Centrale train station. Photo: Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP

Meanwhile, Italy’s Red Cross (Croce Rossa Italiana) plans to carry out up to 3,000 free rapid antigen swab tests a day across 11 of the country’s biggest cities from May.

It has already begun giving the tests at Rome’s Termini and Milan’s Centrale train stations, and plans to set up facilities at stations in nine more cities next month: Bari, Bologna, Cagliari, Florence Santa Maria Novella, Naples Centrale, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Turin Porta Nuova and Venice Santa Lucia.

Find more information about each testing option here.

Vaccination campaign to speed up?

Italy’s vaccine rollout has suffered a string of setbacks, but authorities insist this will improve as more supplies are expected in May.

The Italian government’s Covid emergency commissioner, Francesco Figliuolo, said the country’s vaccination programme will speed up “significantly” in May thanks to increased deliveries, after missing its target of having half a million doses administered daily before the end of April.

The commissioner added that family doctors and pharmacists will now be able to administer vaccinations, which will help pick up the pace further.


End of freeze on paying tax bills?

It looks as though tax payments suspended amid the first wave of the pandemic in 2020 could be due for collection in May.

Italy’s ‘support decree’ last spring put a pause on the collection of many tax payments until April 30th, 2021. While there could be an extension, nothing has yet been announced.

If the tax freeze applies to you, contact your accountant (commercialista) or the local tax office (Agenzia delle entrate) to find out what you may be liable for and when.


Public holidays in May

May 1st, which marks Workers’ Day in Italy as it does in other countries, falls on a Saturday this year and won’t count as a day off work. 

Mothers’ Day in Italy falls on Sunday May 9th.

International ‘vaccine passport’ to launch

It’s not known whether the Italian government will sign up to it yet, but in May, the “IATA (International Air Travel Association) Travel Pass” will be the first to test travel with a vaccination certificate. 

The smartphone app allows travellers to store and manage certifications for Covid-19 tests or vaccinations. It aims to facilitate air travel under pandemic conditions, and help travellers avoid quarantines whenever possible. 

The data should remain under the control of the passengers, the association assures. The app is available now for iOS, and a version for Android is also expected to be available soon. 

For travel in certain parts of Italy meanwhile you will need the domestic “green pass”, launched at the end of April.

New rules on tyre markings

If you drive in Europe this may be relevant to you. An EU directive comes into effect on May 1st requiring tyre manufacturers to put more specific labelling on their products. Producers will also be obliged to enter specifications on an EU database.

Consumers will be able to use this database to compare products, with the aim of making the market more transparent and easier to find safe and environmentally friendly products. See more details on the European Commission’s website.

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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].”