More restrictions have been lifted from Monday in the southern Italian regions of Basilicata, Calabria and Puglia, which moved from the ‘orange’ to the ‘yellow’ zone under the latest update to Italy’s tiered system of coronavirus restrictions.
Sicily and Sardinia remain orange for at least one more week, the health ministry confirmed at a press conference on Friday evening..
There are no more high-risk ‘red’ zones on the map, as the small northern region of Valle d’Aosta moves to the slightly less restrictive orange zone thanks to an improvement in the contagion rate locally, the health ministry stated.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed the latest ordinance on Friday bringing the changes into effect from Monday May 10th.
All other regions and autonomous provinces are already under yellow zone restrictions, meaning lighter restrictions are in place in almost all of Italy.
The latest weekly health data report.on Friday showed a slight rise in the national average reproduction rate (Rt number), though overall the weekly average incidence rate of new cases continues to fall.
Six regions currently remain under tighter coronavirus rules due to higher contagion risk levels locally.
However most regions are now designated lower-risk ‘yellow’ zones, where many restrictions on business openings and movement have been eased.
Italy began gradually relaxing the rules in yellow zones from Monday April 26th under the most recent emergency decree.
Italy’s national coronavirus Rt reproduction number has risen back to 0.89, from 0.85 the week before and 0.81 before that, according to the latest health data reported on Friday by the Health Ministry and Higher Health Institute (ISS).
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Restrictions could be re-imposed if the value reaches 1, which means the overall infection rate is rising.
There are still significant regional variations in the infection rate, the report confirmed.
The incidence rate is now with 127 cases for every 100,000 inhabitants, down from 146 last week, the report said.
However, Italian health authorities have repeatedly stated that the seven-day average incidence rate needs to fall below 50 cases per 100,000 before infections can be contained.
It won’t be known what impact the initial reopenings have had on the infection rate until data becomes available in mid-May, when further relaxations to the rules are planned.
Meanwhile regional authorities and business groups are pressing the government to speed up plans for reopening.
Many health measures, including those on social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing in public, remain in place nationwide.
It’s expected that the number of new infections will start to drop faster as Italy’s vaccination campaign progresses.
However, Italian authorities don’t expect to have the majority of people in the country vaccinated until autumn, and say that continued health measures are the only way to get numbers down in the meantime.
Italy has given a total of 22.8 million shots as of Friday, and has 6.9 million people fully vaccinated, according to official figures.
There were 10.554 more coronavirus infections reported on Friday, and 207 deaths, the health ministry’s data showed.