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HEALTH

Six Italian regions remain under higher Covid restrictions from Monday

Restrictions stay in place in some Italian regions from Monday as local infection rates remain high.

Six Italian regions remain under higher Covid restrictions from Monday
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed an ordinance on Friday evening changing the coronavirus restrictions in two regions, and keeping four others in the ‘orange’ zone.

The island of Sardinia moves from the high-risk ‘red’ to the slightly less restrictive orange zone thanks to an improvement in the contagion rate locally, the health ministry stated.

However Valle D’Aosta will turn from orange to red from Monday as the situation remains worrying in the small northern region.

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

The changes will go into effect from Monday May 3rd.

The regions of Basilicata, Calabria, Puglia and Sicily remain orange for at least one more week.

All other regions and autonomous provinces are under yellow zone restrictions, meaning lighter restrictions are in place in most of Italy.

However, local ‘red’ zones may be declared in areas with spikes in the infection rate.

Many coronavirus rules within Italy’s yellow zones were relaxed from Monday April 26th under the government’s new emergency decree.

READ ALSO:

Restaurants, bars, hotels, theatres and museums in these areas can reopen, and are now gearing up for their first busy weekend after months of tough restrictions.

Some 47 million people living in Italy’s yellow zone regions are now free to travel around most of the country without restrictions.

People in red and orange are now allowed to enter and leave these areas for non-essential reasons, including for tourism, using a new immunity pass.

Customers returned to bar terraces in Milan’s Navigli nightlife area this week. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Many rules, including those on social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing in public, remain in place.

Italy’s national coronavirus Rt reproduction number has risen back to 0.85, from 0.81 the week before, with significant regional variations, according to the latest health data reported on Friday by the Health Ministry and Higher Health Institute (ISS).

Restrictions could be re-imposed if the value reaches 1, which means the overall infection rate is rising.

The incidence rate of new cases continues to fall however, with 146 cases for every 100,000 inhabitants, down from 152 last week, the report said.

“Although the vaccination campaign is progressing significantly, overall, the incidence rmains high and still far from levels (50 per 100,000) that would allow the containment of new cases,” the report stated.

Italy on Thursday hit its target of giving half a million jabs in one day by the end of April.

The target had originally been set for mid-April and was pushed back after Italy’s vaccine rollout was hit repeatedly by supply delays, bureaucratic problems, and cancelled appointments amid falling public trust in the AstraZenenca jab.

The jump in vaccination numbers on Thursday followed days of cancelled appointments and vaccine centre closures earlier this week as many regions started to run out of doses.

READ ALSO: ‘It felt like a betrayal’: Foreign residents in Italy report problems getting vaccinated

Despite the new increase, Italy’s seven-day average of daily inoculations is still only around 360,000, the Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper calculated 

New vaccine supplies started to arrive in Italy from Wednesday, and the country’s vaccination rollout will now speed up “significantly” from May, the Italian government’s Covid commissioner Francesco Figliuolo said this week

Figliuolo said on Thursday that he “hoped” Italy would reach the target of having 80% of the adult population vaccinated “by the end of September”. 

Italy has given a total of 19.4 million shots as of Friday, and has 5.7 million people fully vaccinated, official figures show.

Member comments

  1. How does one get the Immunity pass? I live in a currently orange zone and want to go to Lazio. Where and when can I get such a pass?

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ENVIRONMENT

REVEALED: These are the most polluted towns in Italy

The northern cities of Milan and Turin were named Italy's 'smog capitals' in a new pollution report on Monday which urged the government to take action over poor air quality.

REVEALED: These are the most polluted towns in Italy
Photo: Pixabay

Smog and pollution are choking Italian cities year-round and many towns are exceeding limits on fine particles and other pollution, according to another report from Italian environmental watchdog Legambiente.

The Mal’aria di città (Air pollution in the city) report for 2023, unveiled on Monday, was the latest to warn about the risks to health posed by pollution in many parts of the country.

It found that 25 of 95 cities monitored had violated clean air ordinances by exceeding daily fine particle (PM10) emission limits, which are currently set at no more than 35 days a year with a daily average of over 50 micrograms per cubic metre.

Turin was ranked as the worst offender, exceeding this level on 90 days, closely followed by Milan (84), Asti (79), Modena (75), and Padua and Venice at 70.

These were followed by Cremona, Treviso, Mantua and Rovigo, all of which exceeded limits to a lesser degree.

All of the most polluted cities were in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto, with most within the north-western ‘industrial triangle’.

Some southern cities featured nearer the bottom of the ranking, with Andria (Puglia) and Ragusa (Sicily) exceeding limits on several days, as well as Rome, which overshot the permitted level for one day.

(Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

The average annual rate of PM10 emissions nationwide dropped slightly, by two percent year-on-year, the report found.

“This, however, is not enough to guarantee the health of citizens,” said Stefano Ciafani, president of Legambiente.

He pointed out that the situation looked even worse if air quality in Italian cities were measured against tighter limits under the new European Directive on air quality, in force from 2030, which lowers the PM10 threshold from 35 to 20 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

“Only 23 out of 96 cities (24 percent) would be under these limits,” Ciafani said, while 84 percent would exceed the threshold for PM2.5 and 61 percent for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Italy has repeatedly been reprimanded by the European Union over air quality, and has “persistently and systematically” breached EU recommended limits, the European Court of Justice ruled in 2020.

The north of Italy has long been ranked among the worst areas in Europe for polluted air according to data from the European Environment Agency.

“Air pollution is not only an environmental problem, but also a health problem of great importance,” said Ciafani. “In Europe, it’s the main cause of premature death due to environmental factors.”

“Italy has more than 52,000 deaths per year caused by PM2.5 emissions, equal to a fifth of those recorded throughout the continent,” he said.

The main causes of air pollution in Italian cities are reported to be industry, inefficient domestic heating systems, agricultural practices and, most of all, heavy traffic.

In Italy, cars continue to be by far the most-used means of transport. 65.3 percent of journeys overall are made by car, Legambiante wrote, with the emissions from some 38 million cars choking Italy’s towns and cities.

(Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

Legambiente said “drastic” measures were required to tackle the problem, including funds for more efficient heating systems in homes and public buildings and a major increase in public transport provision.

The group said Italy must “quadruple the availability of public transit, promoting integrated season tickets as done by Germany in 2022”, triple the number of electric buses, create zero-emission zones in town centres, and “create another 16,000 kilometres of cycle paths”.

It also praised local authorities choosing to bring in 30 km/h speed limits in city centres. Councils in Bologna, Turin, Milan and Cesena have all said they plan to implement these limits, following the lead of European cities including Paris and Madrid, despite fierce criticism from Italian transport minister Matteo Salvini.

Legambiente published a petition urging the government to make clean air and more livable cities a priority, saying Italy should follow Paris in attempting to create ’15-minute cities’, in which everyone lives within a quarter of an hour’s walk of vital amenities such as shops and schools and possibly also workplaces.