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COVID-19 RULES

Italy confirms most shops require Covid green pass from February 1st

The Italian government on Friday confirmed the expansion of the health pass requirement from February 1st and agreed on a list of shops and services that will be exempt.

Italy's green pass health certificate
Italy’s 'super green pass' is currently required to enter many venues including hotels and restaurants. Photo: Andreas SOLARO/AFP

Prime Minister Mario Draghi signed a new decree confirming the rules on Friday morning, Sky TG24 reports, after a week of drawn-out discussion between the national government and regional leaders.

Exempt businesses include supermarkets and food shops, pharmacies, opticians, and shops selling fuel and animal food, according to media reports on Friday.

The decree text reportedly states that the exemption applies to shops “related to essential and primary needs”,

This includes “retail shops with a prevalence of food and beverage products, or hypermarkets, supermarkets, food discount stores, mini-markets and other non-specialized food and beverage outlets”

The full text of the decree is yet to be published, and it remains unclear whether tobacconists and newsagents are covered by the exemption. (This article will be updated when more information becomes available.)

From February 1st, those who are not vaccinated or recovered will be able to enter other shops only with a ‘basic’ version of the country’s green pass health certificate, which can be obtained via testing.

Italy currently has a two-tiered green pass system in place, with the basic version of the pass available to those who test negative, alongside the ‘reinforced’ or ‘super’ green pass which proves the bearer is vaccinated against or has recovered from Covid-19.

Passes based on rapid tests are valid for 48 hours, while PCR or molecular test results produce a pass that remains valid for 72 hours.

As of January 20th, the basic version of the pass is already a requirement for entry to hairdressers, barbers, and beauty salons.

The same requirement will apply to public offices, banks and post offices from February 1st.

Calendar: When do Italy’s Covid-19 rules change?

Friday’s decree clarifies that the pass will not be required at police stations when filing complaints, or at shops and services “supplying drugs and medical devices” or to “healthcare services, including veterinary ones, for all purposes of prevention, diagnosis and treatment,” including for carers.

Owners or managers of the shops and offices in question will reportedly be tasked with ensuring compliance, “including with the use of random checks”. Businesses found not to be enforcing green pass requirements can face fines of up to 1,000 euros.

Many other businesses and services in Italy already require the ‘reinforced’ version of the green pass proving vaccination or recovery, including bars, hotels and all forms of public transport, under rules tightened on January 10th.

The requirement is set to remain in place until at least March 31st, which is the current expiry date for Italy’s state of emergency.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What Covid-19 rules are now in place in Italy?

The rules apply nationwide, regardless of the zone a region is in under Italy’s four-tiered system of risk classifications.

Under the new decree, the Italian government was also expected to “reconsider” the system of white, yellow, orange and red ‘zones’, which has been in place since November 2020.

There have been growing calls for the tiered system to be altered or scrapped altogether as the government’s strategy for dealing with the pandemic relies increasingly on vaccination rather than business closures and lockdown measures.

However there was no mention of any incoming changes to the system as of Friday morning.

President of the Lombardy Region Attilio Fontana on Friday suggested a conference between regional heads ad the government would be held next week instead, adding that the zone system “is a little out of date”

“It was useful at a certain stage and now I think it needs to be modified,” he said. “The virus and its way of expanding are different, and the situation of citizens, who are largely vaccinated, is different. We must try to adapt to the new situation.”

For the moment, the system remains in place with four more regions – Abruzzo, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Piedmont and Sicily – expected to be declared higher-risk ‘orange’ zones from Monday, according to media reports based on the latest weekly health data.

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

COVID-19 RULES

Italy cuts Covid isolation period as infection rate falls further

The isolation period for symptomatic Covid cases will be cut from seven days to five as Italy’s epidemiological situation improved again, according to an update from the health ministry on Wednesday.

Italy cuts Covid isolation period as infection rate falls further

The Italian health ministry signed off on a new set of Covid isolation rules on Wednesday after months of speculation about whether the isolation period in place all summer could be scrapped.

Under the update, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and shows symptoms must immediately self-isolate for five days instead of the previous seven, and must test negative – via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test – at the end of that period, as well as being asymptomatic for two days.

READ ALSO: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

Should the patient continue to test positive, they must remain in isolation until they get a negative test result. The maximum length of the isolation period was however cut to 14 days, down from 21.

Testing should be carried out at a registered pharmacy or testing centre. The results of home tests are not seen as valid for this purpose.

The isolation requirement applies to everyone including those who are fully vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid.

The changes came in a circular signed on Wednesday by the health ministry’s director of prevention, Gianni Rezza.

The circular, published on Thursday morning, said the rules had been relaxed “as a result of the cessation of the state of emergency” and based on health data analysis by Italy’s Higher Health Institute on August 24th.

The infection rate in Italy has been falling since mid-July.

The number of new infections recorded over the previous 24 hours on Wednesday was 21,817, with a test positivity rate of 13 percent.

Politicians from several parties criticised the decision to keep isolation rules in place, claiming this could affect voter turnout at elections on September 25th.

Italy’s outgoing health minister, Roberto Speranza, said this wasn’t an issue: “Just as with the last elections, there is the option of voting from home, as is done for the infirm,” he told news agency Ansa.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative on arrival, as long as they are fully boosted, were recently vaccinated, or have recently recovered from Covid.

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

For more information about Italy’s Covid health regulations, see the health ministry’s website.

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