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VENETO

Italian region introduces €1,000 fine for breaking quarantine

Veneto says it will fine people who flout quarantine rules up to €1,000, amid a new outbreak of coronavirus in the region.

Italian region introduces €1,000 fine for breaking quarantine
A gondola ride in Venice, in the region of Veneto. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

The north-eastern region around Venice has seen infections rise in the past week in an outbreak traced back to a resident who returned from an overseas trip and refused to go to hospital despite showing symptoms.

READ ALSO: Here are the current rules on travelling to Italy

In a new ordinance issued on Monday, regional governor Luca Zaia set a fine of €1,000 for anyone who breaks quarantine rules – even if they have tested negative for the new coronavirus. 

If someone is caught leaving isolation to go to work, their employer is liable to pay €1,000 for every employee exposed.

Meanwhile health authorities are obliged to report anyone who tests positive but refuses to isolate to the police for possible criminal charges.

A 14-day quarantine is obligatory for anyone who enters Veneto from outside the EU, Schengen Zone or UK. People who come into contact with someone who tests positive for the coronavirus, or who show symptoms of being sick with Covid-19, must also self-isolate for at least two weeks.

On top of quarantining, people who travel for work must test negative twice before being allowed to return to their workplace as normal.

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While the new rules are only applicable in Veneto, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza has said that he is considering allowing hospitals to section people who refuse to be admitted for Covid-19.

Currently people who test positive can be fined up to €5,000 and jailed for up to six months for failing to quarantine, but there is no way to force them to go to hospital if they refuse.

Veneto's new ordinance comes as the region's effective reproduction number (Rt) rose from 0.43 to 1.63 by Friday. If a disease is to be wiped out, epidemiologists say the Rt needs to be below 1.

The region has traced at least five cases of the virus back to three businessmen who travelled to Serbia and Bosnia in June before returning to the cities of Vicenza and Verona. One of the people they came into contact with has since died from Covid-19.

One of the men from Vicenza did not self-isolate when he got back and was slow to inform health authorities when he first developed symptoms or about who he had been in contact with since returning. He also initially resisted going to hospital, where he is currently being treated in serious condition.

The regions of Lazio and Emilia-Romagna have also seen their Rt number rise above 1 in the past week after outbreaks in Rome and Bologna.

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

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

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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