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COVID-19 RULES

EXPLAINED: How Italy’s Covid rules change from Thursday

Most of Italy’s remaining pandemic-related restrictions have been eased from Thursday, June 16th - but some remain. Here are the rules at a glance.

EXPLAINED: How Italy’s Covid rules change from Thursday
Masks remain required on metro trains and other forms of public transport in Italy until September. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

The Italian health minister on Wednesday night signed off on the latest changes to the rules contained in an ordinance.

While most rules have been dropped, the government has chosen to keep its mask mandate in place on most forms of public transport, in healthcare settings, and in care homes.

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

As existing rules had expired on Wednesday, June 15th, the changes come in immediately from Thursday, June 16th.

Though the changes are already in force, some details remain unclear.

The government is expected to publish a decree in the coming days containing further information about of the updated regulations, but for now here’s what we know about how the rules have changes in Italy on Thursday based on the ordinance and separate official updates in recent days.

Public transport

Italy has extended current rules until September 30th, meaning passengers will still be required to wear FFP2 masks on local and long-distance public transport including buses, coaches, trains, subways, trams, and ferries, according to the health ministry’s ordinance.

The ordinance confirms that children aged under six remain exempt from the requirement, as do those who have “illnesses or disabilities incompatible with the use of a mask”. Police enforcing mask-wearing rules may ask for a medical certificate in this case.

Flights

Flights are not mentioned in the new ordinance, and media reports say ministers have chosen to lift the rules for air passengers entirely.

Confirmation is expected once the full decree text is published. However, in recent weeks many airlines and airports in Italy have already opted to relax the mask-wearing requirement individually.

Cinemas and theatres

The mask-wearing requirement in cinemas, theatres, concert halls, and at indoor sporting events has been dropped from June 16th, the ordinance confirms.

Schools

Students will not be required to wear a mask when sitting the maturità and terza media exams, though masks continue to be recommended.

Hospitals and healthcare settings

As expected, masks remain obligatory in hospitals, care homes and all types of healthcare facilities,

Workplaces

Employees of businesses in the private sector are still obliged to wear masks until at least June 30th, according to rules set previously. This means the rule applies to staff at venues including cinemas, concert halls, bars and restaurants – though not to customers.

Masks are no longer required in public sector workplaces as of June 16th, as the ordinance requiring them expired on the 15th and has no been renewed.

Churches

Masks will no longer be required in churches, and holy water fonts can now be used again, according to separate guidelines issued on Wednesday.

Compulsory vaccination for over-50s

From Thursday the Covid vaccination requirement also comes to an end for over-50s in Italy, but remains in place for healthcare and care home staff until at least the end of the year.

Quarantine rules

There has been no indication yet as to whether the government also plans to relax the rules on quarantine and isolation for those who test positive for Covid-19.

Note that local authorities and individual businesses in Italy can still set different rules than those at the national level, meaning certain restrictions may continue to vary from one place to another.

This article will be updated when more details are made available.

Find more information about Italy’s Covid-19 health restrictions on the Italian health ministry’s website (available in English).

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COVID-19 RULES

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

The health ministry is reviewing its quarantine requirements as the country's Covid-19 health situation improved again this week, according to Italian media reports.

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

Italy has taken a more cautious approach to Covid in recent months than many of its European neighbours, keeping strict isolation rules in place for anyone who tests positive for the virus.

But this could be set to change in the coming days, according to media reports, as one of Italy’s deputy health ministers said the government is about to cut the isolation period for asymptomatic cases.

“Certainly in the next few days there will be a reduction in isolation for those who are positive but have no symptoms,” Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa said in a TV interview on the political talk show Agorà on Tuesday.

“We have to manage to live with the virus,” he said.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reported that the compulsory isolation period could be reduced to 48 hours for those who test positive but remain asymptomatic – provided they subsequently test negative after the day two mark.

Under Italy’s current rules, vaccinated people who test positive must stay in isolation for at least seven days, and unvaccinated people for ten days – regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms.

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

At the end of the isolation period, the patient has to take another test to exit quarantine. Those who test negative are free to leave; those who remain positive must stay in isolation until they get a negative test result, up to a maximum of 21 days in total (at which point it doesn’t matter what the test result says).

Health ministry sources indicated the new rules would cut the maximum quarantine period to 15 or even 10 days for people who continue to test positive after the initial isolation period is up, La Stampa said.

The government is believed to be reviewing the rules as the latest official data showed Covid infection and hospitalisation rates were slowing again this week, as the current wave of contagions appeared to have peaked in mid-July.

However, the national Rt number (which shows the rate of transmission) remained above the epidemic threshold, and the number of fatalities continued to rise.

The proposed changes still aren’t lenient enough for some parties. Regional authorities have been pushing for an end to quarantine altogether, even for people who are actively positive – an idea Costa appears sympathetic to.

“The next step I think is to consider the idea of even eliminating the quarantine, perhaps by wearing a mask and therefore being able to go to work,” he told reporters.

“We must review the criteria for isolation, to avoid blocking the country again”.

At least one health expert, however, was unenthusiastic about the proposal.

Dr Nino Cartabellotta, head of Italy’s evidence-based medicine group Gimbe, tweeted on Tuesday: “There are currently no epidemiological or public health reasons to abolish the isolation of Covid-19 positives”

Massimo Andreoni, professor of Infectious Diseases at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Tor Vergata University of Rome, was more ambivalent about the prospect.

The isolation requirement for asymptomatic cases should be “revised somewhat in the light of the epidemiological data”, he told reporters, but urged “a minimum of precaution, because the less the virus circulates and the fewer severe cases there are, the fewer new variants arise”.

When the question was last raised at the end of June, Health Minister Roberto Speranza was firmly against the idea of lifting quarantine requirements for people who were Covid positive.

“At the moment such a thing is not in question,” he told newspaper La Repubblica at the time. “Anyone who is infected must stay at home.”

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