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COVID-19 RULES

Italy announces new Covid quarantine and green pass rules as cases surge

Italy on Wednesday scrapped quarantine rules for those coming into contact with someone positive for coronavirus providing they have had a booster shot, or were recently vaccinated or recovered.

People wear face masks as they walk in Milan.
Italy has again tightened some health restrictions just days after announcing the last emergency decree. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Health experts had urged the government to rethink its quarantine policies amid concerns that the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant could paralyse the country by forcing millions to stay at home.

With close to 100,000 people now testing positive daily in Italy, experts warned this could mean half a million more people required to quarantine every day unless the rules were eased.

Quarantine will no longer be required for those who had contact with a positive case if they have had a booster dose, or were vaccinated or have recovered within the last 120 days, according to a government statement released on Wednesday night.

Q&A: What are Italy’s new Covid quarantine rules?

They will be required to wear a more protective FFP2 mask for 10 days and, if they have symptoms, take a test within five days of contact with the positive person.

Previous rules required all contacts to quarantine (for seven days if vaccinated and ten if not) and then get a negative test result at the end of this period.

It was not clear from the initial announcement when the quarantine rule change would come into effect. The government is working on a new decree on Thursday, news agency Ansa reports.

On Wednesday night, the government also added to the growing list of venues where the ‘super’ or reinforced green pass will be required from January 10th, now including outdoor restaurants, hotels, and ski lifts as well as all forms of public transport.

EXPLAINED: How to get a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot in Italy

Italy’s reinforced green pass. introduced in early December, can only be obtained via vaccination or recovery, and not with a negative test result.

The government stopped short of introducing the requirement at all workplaces – which would effectively amount to a long-discussed vaccination mandate for a large proportion of the population.

“I think it is reasonable to apply different rules to those citizens who have followed the government’s indications, taking two doses and then the booster,” said health undersecretary Andrea Costa.

The new measures were confirmed as the daily number of coronavirus cases soared to a record 98,030 on Wednesday, with the number of hospitalised patients also rising.

The rule changes come in addition to a raft of tighter rules announced on Thursday, December 23rd, including a ban on outdoor events over the festive period and the closure of nightclubs until January 31st.

Italy’s government last week also introduced new random testing requirements for international arrivals, in addition to the existing rules on testing and vaccination.

For further details about Italy’s current Covid-19 health measures please see the Italian Health Ministry’s website (available in English).

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COVID-19 RULES

Italy allows suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work

Italian heathcare staff suspended over their refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 can now return to work, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni confirmed on Monday.

Italy allows suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work

Italy become the first country in Europe to make it obligatory for healthcare workers to be vaccinated, ruling in 2021 that they must have the jab or be transferred to other roles or suspended without pay.

That obligation had been set to expire in December, but was brought forward to Tuesday due to “a shortage of medical and health personnel”, Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said.

READ ALSO: Is Italy’s government planning to scrap all Covid measures?

Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, and has since registered nearly 180,000 deaths.

Schillaci first announced the plan to scrap the rule on Friday in a statement saying data showed the virus’ impact on hospitals  “is now limited”.

Those who refuse vaccination will be “reintegrated” into the workforce before the rule expires at the end of this year, as part of what the minister called a “gradual return to normality”.

Meloni said the move, which has been criticised by the centre-left as a win for anti-vax campaigners, would mean some 4,000 healthcare workers can return to work.

This includes some 1,579 doctors and dentists refusing vaccination, according to records at the end of October, representing 0.3 percent of all those registered with Italy’s National Federation of the Orders of Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists (Fnomceo) 

Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy party railed against the way Mario Draghi’s government handled the pandemic, when it was the main opposition party, and she promised to use her first cabinet meetings to mark a clear break in policies with her predecessor.

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