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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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HEALTH

Living in Italy: Five tips to help you survive the local pharmacy

From ear piercings to flu jabs, Italian ‘farmacie’ are among the most useful stores in the country, but they’re also very odd places. Here are our tips on getting through the pharmacy experience.

Living in Italy: Five tips to help you survive the local pharmacy

Italian pharmacies aren’t just stores selling prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

As a customer, you’ll find all sorts of natural remedies, basic health supplies and personal care items on their shelves. 

You’ll also be able to receive basic medical services (for instance, blood pressure checks, Covid tests and flu jabs) and some non-health-related ones (like getting your ears pierced!) in most branches. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I still get the flu vaccine in Italy? 

But, while being extremely useful stores, Italian farmacie (pronunciation available here) are also peculiar places and their set of unwritten rules and solidified traditions may well throw off newcomers.. 

So here are five tips that might help you complete your first expeditions to your local pharmacy without making a fool of yourself.

1 – Decipher your doctor’s scribbles before your trip

Much like some of their foreign colleagues, Italian GPs have a penchant for writing prescriptions that no one else is actually able to read. 

We might never find out why doctors seem so intent on making ancient hieroglyphs fashionable again, but their calligraphic efforts will surely get in the way of you trying to buy whatever medicine you need to survive. 

To avoid hiccups, make sure you know exactly what you need to get. If in doubt, reach out to your GP to confirm.

Don’t rely on pharmacists being able to figure out your doctor’s handwriting because they often have no clue either.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to make a doctor’s appointment in Italy 

Pharmacy in Codogno, near Milan

In most small towns and rural areas local pharmacies have very ‘thin’ opening hours. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

2 – Double-check the pharmacy’s opening times

If you’re from the UK or the US, you might be used to pharmacies being open from 8am to 10pm on weekdays and having slightly reduced opening times over the weekend. 

You can forget about that in Italy. In big cities, most pharmacies will shut no later than 8pm on weekdays and will be closed on either Saturdays or Sundays.

READ ALSO: Coughs, colds and flu: What to say and do if you fall sick in Italy 

As for small towns or villages, opening times will have a nice Middle Ages vibe to them, with local stores remaining shut on weekends and keeping their doors open from 9am to 12.30pm and then from 3.30pm to 7.30pm on weekdays. 

So always check your local pharmacy’s hours before leaving home and, should their times not be available online, call them up. An awkward phone conversation with the pharmacist is still preferable to a wasted trip.

3 – Get the ‘numerino

Some Italian pharmacies have a ticket-dispensing machine with the aim of regulating the queue – a concept which is still foreign to many across the country.

All customers are expected to get a numbered paper ticket (the famed ‘numerino’) from the above machine and wait for their number to be called to walk up to the pharmacist’s desk. 

Now, the law of the land categorically prohibits customers from getting within a five-metre radius of the desk without a numerino

Also, trying to break that rule may result in a number of disdainful sideways glances from local customers.

4 – You cannot escape the in-store conversations, so embrace them 

Pharmacies aren’t just stores. They’re a cornerstone of Italian life and locals do a good deal of socialising on the premises. 

After all, the waiting times are often a bit dispiriting, so how can you blame them for killing the time?

Small pharmacy in Italy

Pharmacies are an essential part of Italian life and culture. Photo by Marco SABADIN / AFP

You might think that locals won’t want to talk to you because you’re a foreigner or don’t know the language too well, but you’ll marvel at how chatty some are.

While chit-chat might not be your cup of tea, talking with locals might help you improve your Italian, so it’s worth a shot.

5 – “Vuoi scaricarlo?”

The pharmacist finally gets you what you need and you’re now thinking that your mission is over. Well, not yet.

Before charging you for the items in question, the pharmacist will ask you whether you’d like to ‘scaricarli’ (literally, ‘offload them’) or not, which, no matter how good your Italian is, will not make any sense to you.

What the pharmacist is actually asking you is whether you want to link the purchase to your codice fiscale (tax code). 

READ ALSO: Codice fiscale: How to get your Italian tax code (and why you need one)   

That’s because Italy offers residents a 19-percent discount on some health-related expenses, which can be claimed through one’s annual income declaration (dichiarazione dei redditi) by attaching the receipts of all the eligible payments.

Whether you want to scaricare or not, this is the last obstacle before you can make your way back home.

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