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COVID-19 RULES

Four Italian regions may become Covid ‘orange’ zones from Monday

As the Covid health situation continues to worsen in Italy and as pressure on hospitals grows, four Italian regions look likely to move into the higher-risk 'orange' zone from next week.

Some Italian regions face becoming 'orange' zones from Monday.
Some regions have already exceeded the threshold for becoming an 'orange' zone. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

Italy set a new record on Tuesday with 220,532 new Covid infections in the last 24 hours, according to data from the health ministry.

Some regions are faring worse than others – the figures for Piedmont, Calabria, Liguria and Sicily show an increasing amount of Covid hospital admissions, both in general occupancy and in intensive care.

Based on these parameters, the first two of these regions have already exceeded the threshold for entering an ‘orange’ zone.

To be moved into this higher restricted tier, a region or autonomous province must record a Covid incidence rate of 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, combined with 20 percent ICU and 30 percent general ward Covid patient occupancy.

In Piedmont, the latest data has recorded 24 percent ICU occupancy and 33 percent for general admissions, according to figures from Agenas, Italy’s National Agency for Health Services. The incidence rate in this region has also already far exceeded the threshold for this week at 635.75.

MAP: The Italian regions becoming Covid ‘orange’ zones in January

Meanwhile in Calabria, ICU occupancy has now met the threshold at 20 percent and its ordinary admissions have surpassed it at 38 percent. Its incidence rate has also exceeded the maximum limit to stay in a lower risk ‘yellow’ zone at 204.50.

Liguria and Sicily, on the other hand, are looking very close to outstripping the parameters in time for the national data review on Friday. Italy’s health ministry examines the latest figures each week and decides which restrictions should be applied to a region or autonomous province from the following Monday.

Liguria hangs in the balance with 38 percent rate of hospitalisation in ordinary wards, but intensive care has been stable for several days at 20 percent. In theory, it has met the criteria to move into an ‘orange’ zone, but there are still a couple of more days to gauge whether its ICU occupancy fluctuates. Its incidence rate has already far surpassed the threshold at 755.42.

Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

The numbers are constantly growing in Sicily and this region could also face tighter health measures from Monday. As of Wednesday, its ICU occupancy is 20 percent, while general admissions are 32 percent. Its incidence rate is 435.15.

For these regions, it looks likely that they’ll lose their ‘yellow’ zone status – but it’s not a given.

The government has discretionary powers to move a region into a new zone even if the thresholds aren’t exceeded. Likewise, an area could remain in a lower restricted zone when they have – the figures serve as a guide for the health authorities.

Other regions are at risk of moving into an ‘orange’ zone in the coming weeks, based on their health data.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Marche, the autonomous province of Trento and Valle d’Aosta have all shown increasing numbers admitted to their hospitals, in both ICU and general occupancy this week.

If an area becomes an ‘orange’ zone, vaccinated people won’t experience much of a change, as most venues and activities will remain open and accessible to those with Italy’s ‘super green pass’ health certificate that shows the bearer is vaccinated against or recovered from Covid.

EXPLAINED: What are the rules in Italy’s Covid ‘orange’ zones?

There are presently 15 regions in the yellow zone and six regions are still in the lowest-risk ‘white’ zone – but some of those in the lowest restricted tier could lose that status and soon move up into a ‘yellow’ zone.

To enter a ‘yellow’ zone, any region above the threshold of 10 percent ICU and 15 percent general ward Covid patient occupancy and with a new weekly incident rate of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants should automatically be moved into this tier.

Campania now has yellow-zone data with 12 percent intensive care occupancy and 25 percent admissions in non-critical areas. Umbria too has already met the criteria for a ‘yellow’ zone with 16 percent ICU admissions and 30 percent for ordinary wards.

The health situation is worsening in Puglia with 10 percent ICU admissions and 17 percent for ordinary admissions, while in Sardinia ICU admissions are 14 percent and general wards are 13 percent.

The incidence rate for all these regions has already far exceeded the threshold for this parameter.

The only two regions not at risk of losing their ‘white’ zone status at the moment are Basilicata and Molise.

Anti-contagion measures in both ‘white’ and ‘yellow’ zones are similar – until January 31st at least, mask-wearing outdoors is mandatory even in the ‘white’ zone.

Note that local authorities in Italy can also decide to impose stricter rules at short notice. Always check the latest restrictions in your province or town: find out how here.

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

Reader question: What are Italy’s Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Italy's quarantine rules have changed so many times over the past couple of years, it can be hard to keep track. Here's the latest information on when and how visitors need to self-isolate.

Reader question: What are Italy's Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Question: “One of your recent articles says you can exit quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. But you can also exit quarantine by obtaining a certificate of recovery from Covid-19… true?”

Unfortunately, official proof of having recovered from Covid-19 won’t get you out of the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while visiting Italy – though it can shorten your quarantine period.

The health ministry’s current rules state that anyone who tests positive while in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle, or was certified as being recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and boosted, or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine in order to be allowed out.

Read more about getting tested while in Italy in a separate article here.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter its borders, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/ have recently recovered from Covid.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Some countries (including the US), however, do require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure – which means visitors at the tail end of their journey could be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

It’s because of this rule that a number of The Local’s readers told us they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer, and intend to postpone for another year.

If you are planning on visiting Italy from a country that requires you to test negative for Covid prior to re-entry, it’s a good idea to consider what you would do and where you would go in the unlikely event you unexpectedly test positive.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

You can keep up with the latest updates via our homepage or Italian travel news section.

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