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WHAT CHANGES IN ITALY

What changes about life in Italy in May 2022

From changes to the Covid green pass and mask rules, to upcoming spring events, here's a look at what's on the calendar in Italy as we move into May.

What changes about life in Italy in May 2022
Traditional azaleas flowers are placed onto the stairs of Capitol Hill to celebrate the spring in Rome. (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Green pass rules have been relaxed

As of May 1st, Italy has dropped both its ‘basic’ (requiring a negative Covid test result) and ‘super’ (requiring proof of vaccination or recovery) green pass requirements for almost all situations.

Until the end of April, the ‘super green pass’ – or its equivalent in the form of a foreign-issued vaccination or recovery certificate – had been required to access venues such as cinemas, gyms and nightclubs, while the ‘basic’ green pass was needed to use public transport and to dine indoors at restaurants.

The health certificate requirement has now been scrapped in almost all venues – the one exception being hospitals and care homes, which still require visitors to provide proof of vaccination or recovery (the ‘super green pass’).

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

A customer shows her Green Pass on a mobile phone. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

Changes to the mask mandate

Italy ended its mask requirement for most indoor public spaces on May 1st, but at the end of April the government signed an ordinance keeping the mandate in place for some venues until June 15th.

Venues where masks are still required until then include local and long-distance public transport; health and social care environments, such as hospitals and residential homes; schools; and indoor entertainment venues, such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls, live music venues, and indoor sports arenas and stadiums.

High-grade Ffp2 masks are required on public transport (including planes, trains, ferries, buses, trams, coaches, school buses, trams and the metro) and in indoor entertainment venues; while lower-grade surgical masks are accepted in health and social care facilities and schools. Children under the age of six are exempt in all circumstances.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?

High grade FFP2 masks are currently required for on public transport and in stadiums, movie theatres, museums and sporting events in Italy.

Masks are likely to still be a requirement on public transport in May. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP.

As of May 1st masks are no longer required in bars, restaurants, hotels, shops, museums, galleries, gyms, swimming pools, spas, nightclubs and workplaces all no longer require any kind of mask (under national law – individual businesses may choose to impose their own, stricter rules).

May Day Holiday (but you won’t get a day off)

May 1st marks Labour Day in Italy, a national public holiday – and also in many other countries too, often referred to as May Day.

Ironically, even though this is the workers’ day holiday, you won’t get a day off in Italy as it falls on a Sunday this year – and public holidays aren’t rolled on to the Monday when they take place on a weekend, as is the case in many other countries.

READ ALSO: The Italian holiday calendar for 2022

The good news is, if you’re on the payroll of an Italian company, you might be entitled to a day’s pay since it is a public holiday that’s not taken and so, the day should be included in your salary as if it had been worked.

It’s worth checking with your employer to see if you can benefit from the holiday in some way, after all.

May concerts and events

As the weather warms up and spring is in bloom, Italy is returning to a full social calendar with various concerts and events throughout the country.

As well as keeping an eye out for those local to you or where you’re visiting, there are some headliners to pencil in.

Italy’s Måneskin performs during the final of the 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, at the Ahoy convention centre in Rotterdam, on May 22, 2021. (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

Italy is the host country for Eurovision this year after Rome-based rock band Måneskin took victory in Rotterdam in 2021 with the song ‘Zitti e buoni’.

Turin has been chosen to host this year’s eccentric and flamboyant music acts. The grand final will be held in the city’s PalaOlimpico on Saturday, May 14th with the semi-finals scheduled on May 10th and 12th.

Heading southwards to Rome is the ‘Primo Maggio‘ May Day Concert (on May 1st therefore), which the organisers say is the largest free live music event in Europe.

The show is organised annually in Rome and has been running for over 30 years, attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators.

You can head to Piazza San Giovanni to see live acts for free from 3pm until spaces are full, and no booking is needed. See here for further info.

And if high human-powered speeds on two wheels are your thing, you might like to know that the Giro d’Italia cycling race takes place throughout May.

The event lasts for three weeks, starting in Budapest, Hungary on May 6th and ending in Verona, Italy on May 29th.

Check details and the route here.

Superbonus extension?

Homebuilders can end their waiting for final confirmation of an extension to Italy’s superbonus for single family homes any day now.

The government has already announced an imminent extension to give homebuilders more time to carry out delayed renovations, with a law finalising the plans expected as we begin a new month.

Various sectors called for the bonus to be rolled on for single buildings, as owners must have completed 30 percent of the works by June 30th – giving just two months left to those caught up in delays and at risk of not meeting the deadline.

While a new timeframe has not yet been given, the authorities have announced their intention to roll on the building bonus in their latest Economic and Financial Document (Il documento di economia e finanza or ‘DEF’), which outlines the government’s economic policy and sets fiscal targets for the year.

You can find out more about the latest details here.

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For members

CRIME

What happens when a foreign national gets arrested in Italy?

It’s a situation nobody ever wants to be in, but what if you’re arrested in Italy? Here's an overview of your rights and what you should do if this happens to you.

What happens when a foreign national gets arrested in Italy?

Most people come to Italy to enjoy the weather, food, and relaxed lifestyle. Very few come to break the law, but there’s always a chance you could find yourself in trouble with the Italian police whether through misunderstanding or misdemeanour. 

Pray it never happens but if you are arrested while in Italy, what are your rights? What happens next, and who can help you?

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Italy

Whether it’s a road traffic violation, a minor offence or a more serious charge, here’s what you need to know about Italian legal processes upon arrest. 

The Italian system

Italian legal procedures may slightly differ from those in your home country, but just like in most Western countries, the Italian judiciary is independent from the government and all foreign nationals have the same rights (and face the same laws) as citizens.

Rights upon arrest

Upon your arrest, you will be orally informed of your rights, which, in short, are the following: 

You have the right to appoint a lawyer of your choice. If for any reason you cannot find a lawyer, the police will ask the local bar association to produce a state-appointed lawyer (difensore di ufficio). In Italy it is mandatory to have a lawyer when facing criminal charges. 

You also have the right to inform your family and your consulate of your arrest.

Keep in mind that, in case you’re caught and arrested in the act of committing a crime (un reato) or immediately after committing a crime, you do not have the right to know the allegations held against you until the udienza di convalida, a judicial hearing for the validation of your arrest (this must take place within four days of the arrest).

In all other circumstances, you will be served an arrest warrant (mandato), which must include an overview of the allegations.

Legal representation

You are entitled to representation by a lawyer (avvocato) during all stages of the criminal proceedings against you.

You can find contact details for Italian lawyers through the Albo Nazionale Avvocati (National Lawyers Register). Alternatively, you may also reach out to your consulate and ask to be given the contact information of lawyers suited to your case.

As previously mentioned, if you can’t find a lawyer, a defense counsel will automatically be appointed by the police or by the court from a list of lawyers provided by the local bar association.

READ ALSO: Guardia di Finanza to Carabinieri – who does what in the Italian police force? 

Please note that, if you are not under arrest but merely under investigation, you cannot be interviewed by the police in the absence of your lawyer. Any evidence gathered during an unlawful interview will be stricken as inadmissible at trial.

Conversely, if you are under arrest, the interview can only be conducted by a judge or a prosecutor. In such a case, your lawyer must be informed of the interview but their attendance is not mandatory.

Trial of two US teenagers in Rome

Lawyer Massimo Ferrandino takes the floor during a high-profile criminal proceeding in Rome on July 22nd 2020. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / POOL / AFP.

Legal aid

As of January 2021, if you are earning less than €11,746.68 (approximately £9960 or $12,511) per year, you are entitled to apply for legal aid.

If your application is successful, your lawyer of choice will be paid in full by the state at the end of your proceedings.

In order to apply for legal aid, non-EU citizens need to produce an official statement validated by their consulate and indicating their personal yearly income.

Translators

If you do not have a good command of Italian, you should be provided with an interpreter for any stage of the proceedings where your presence is required. The service will be free of charge.

While you are entitled to a translator, you don’t have the right to ask that any evidence against you be translated into your mother tongue. 

Interrogation

Whether you’re being questioned by the police, a prosecutor or a judge, you should know that anything you say can be used against you during your trial. 

As a result, it is advisable that you consult your lawyer prior to answering any question.

Pre-trial detention & bail

Your pre-trial detention or other conditions imposed on your freedom are decided by the judge in camera di consiglio, ie. not in an open court.

The length of your pre-trial detention period depends on the nature of your alleged offence.

For instance, for minor offences, you cannot be detained for more than six months prior to your trial. Keep in mind that, by Italian law, if your trial at the first instance doesn’t end within 18 months of your detention, you must be released.

Local police officers standing outside Milan’s San Vittore prison. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.

Defendants who are granted bail (libertà provvisoria) are free to go back to their home country unless the judge has imposed conditions that would make it impossible to do so (for instance, the confiscation of one’s passport).

Any breach of the relevant bail conditions generally results in the application of harsher measures, such as restraining orders (ordinanze restrittive), house arrest (arresti domiciliari) or custody.

Note that the judge’s decisions regarding a defendant’s freedom prior to the start of their trial can be challenged by applying for a judicial review at the Tribunale della Libertà (Freedom Tribunal).

Rights while in custody

All prisoners have a number of rights, including the right to security, healthcare and sustenance. Detainees also have a right to unlimited mail correspondence, six one-hour-long visits per month (no more than three visitors are allowed at a single time) and one 10-minute phone call per week.

Foreign nationals can request to receive the Charter of Rights (Carta dei diritti e dei doveri dei detenuti e degli internati) in their own language. The English-language version is available here.

All detainees who believe that their rights may have been violated can reach out to their regional ombudsman and request intervention.

Bear in mind that ombudsmen have the authority to set up meetings with detainees and visit penitentiary centres without previous authorisation.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. If you find yourself under arrest in Italy, we suggest you contact your country’s consulate for advice.

For further information, please consult Fair Trials’ online resource hub and Prison Insider’s website. Other useful links are available below:

National Bar Council

Ministry of Justice

National Guarantor for the Rights of People Deprived of Liberty

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