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COVID-19 RULES

Italy to end Covid state of emergency and cut ‘super green pass’, PM confirms

The Italian government will not extend the Covid-19 state of emergency beyond its current deadline of March 31st, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Wednesday.

Italy to end Covid state of emergency and cut ‘super green pass’, PM confirms
Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

 “The goal is to open everything back up as soon as possible,” Draghi told a business conference in Florence, according to Italian media reports.

Though ministers have repeatedly indicated that the state of emergency would likely come to an end on that date, the move had not yet been confirmed.

The state of emergency is the condition which has allowed the Italian government to bring in emergency measures by decree over the past two years.

TIMELINE: When will Italy ease its coronavirus restrictions?

While the end of the state of emergency does not necessarily mean the end of all pandemic-related restrictions, the prime minister said the use of the ‘green pass’ health certificate scheme would also be scaled back.

The government will gradually remove the obligation to show proof of vaccination or recovery at many venues under the system, Draghi said, without giving any dates.

Italy currently operates a two-tiered green pass health certificate system, meaning proof of vaccination or recovery is currently needed for access to everything from hotels and restaurants to  public transport and many workplaces in Italy. 

READ ALSO: Where you now need to show a Covid green pass in Italy

“We will gradually put an end to the enhanced green certificate obligation, starting with outdoor activities including fairs, sports, parties and shows,” he said. 

“We will continue to monitor the pandemic situation closely, ready to intervene in case of resurgence.”

Rules on quarantine and the use of higher-grade FFP2 masks in schools are also to be eased in April, he said.

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COVID-19 RULES

Italy lifts mask mandate for private sector workers

Masks will no longer be required in the workplace but Italian companies will have the right to impose restrictions for employees deemed "at risk".

Italy lifts mask mandate for private sector workers

Representatives from the Italian Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health and all major national unions collectively signed off on Thursday a new “shared protocol” (protocollo condiviso) for the implementation of anti-Covid measures in private workplaces. 

Although the full text of the bill will only be made available to the public sometime next week, portions of the document have already been released to the media, thus disclosing the government’s next steps in the fight against the virus.

The most relevant update concerns face masks, which will no longer be mandatory in private workplaces. 

However, the text specifies, FFP2 face masks remain “an important protective item aimed at safeguarding workers’ health”. As such, employers will have the right to autonomously impose the use of face coverings on categories of workers considered “at risk”.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Notably, face coverings may remain mandatory for those working in “indoor settings shared by multiple employees” or even in “outdoor settings where social distancing may not be practicable”. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions (soggetti fragili) may also be subject to such rules, which, it is worth reminding, are left to the employer’s discretion. 

Alongside mask-related restrictions, employers will also have the right to have their staff undergo temperature checks prior to entering the workplace. In such cases, anyone with a body temperature higher than 37.5C will be denied access to the workplace and will be asked to temporarily self-isolate pending further indications from their own doctor.

In line with previous measures, companies will be required to continue supplying sanitising products free of charge and regulate access to common areas (canteens, smoking areas, etc.) so as to avoid gatherings.

Additionally, employers will be advised to keep incentivising smart working (lavoro agile), as it has proved to be “a valuable tool to curb infection, especially for at-risk individuals”.

Provided that the country’s infection curve registers no significant changes, the updated protocol will remain in place until October 31st, when it will yet again be reviewed by the relevant governmental and social parties. 

With the latest round of measures, Italy has now scrapped all Covid-related health measures, except the requirement to wear face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings, and self-isolation provisions for those testing positive. 

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

Italy’s infection curve has been rising significantly since the beginning of June. From June 1st to June 14th, Covid’s R (spreading rate) rate rose back over 1 for the first time since April 8th. Also, from June 17th to June 23rd, the virus’s incidence rate was 504 cases every 100,000 residents, up by 62 per cent on the previous week.

According to Claudio Mastroianni, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Sapienza University of Rome, “with 25 per cent of daily Covid swabs coming back positive and a R rate over 1, the infection curve will likely rise at least until mid-July”.

However, albeit acknowledging the rising number of positive cases, Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa has so far categorically excluded the possibility of re-introducing lapsed Covid measures, saying that it’ll be a “restriction-free summer”.

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