EXPLAINED: What are the rules in Italy’s coronavirus ‘white zones’?

As all Italian regions move into the low-restriction 'white zone' from Monday, here's a closer look at what that means.

EXPLAINED: What are the rules in Italy’s coronavirus ‘white zones’?
(This article was updated on June 27th)
The last of Italy’s regions, Valle d’Aosta, will move into the lowest-risk ‘white zone’ from Monday, joining the rest of the country already in this classification.
Italy added the extra white tier to its system of coronavirus rules back in January, which is reserved for parts of the country where the coronavirus risk is lowest.

Valle d’Aosta now meets ‘white zone’ eligibility criteria as it has registered fewer than 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants for three weeks consecutively.

READ ALSO: What is Italy’s Covid-19 digital ‘green pass’ used for and how do you get it?

The main difference for this region will be an end to the limit on guest numbers you can have at home (which is currently four in yellow zones, not including children).

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed the new health ordinance on Friday confirming the change, based on the weekly health data.


What changes in ‘white’ zones?

Regions can drop most of the restrictions currently in place in yellow zones – which only included Valle d’Aosta this week.

Outdoor mask-wearing rules can also be relaxed in ‘white’ zones from Monday – though not removed completely – as the government announced earlier this week.

Most other measures have already been eased, including the midnight-5am curfew, which was abandoned nationwide on Monday June 21st.

Covid-19: When do you still need to wear a mask in Italy?

Social distancing rules remain in place in ‘white’ zones, and there’s still a ban on parties and large gatherings at home.

Regions in the ‘white zone’, which means the entire country from Monday, will be able to drop the last remaining restrictions, and reopen trade fairs, theme parks, conferences and indoor swimming pools and hold weddings under the national roadmap for reopening.

Nightclubs and discos are set to restart in early July, with opinions still divided on whether mask-wearing will be compulsory at these venues or not.

And the final set of rules in each region depends on the local authority, as each is free to impose stricter restrictions than those set by the national government.

Coronavirus: Where is the Delta variant spreading in Italy?

What are the criteria for ‘white’ zones?

To be declared a white zone, a region must have fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and an Rt number below 1 for three weeks in a row.

Predictions that the whole of Italy could be in a white zone by 21st June weren’t far off the mark, with the real date coming just a week later.

The national Rt number – the reproduction rate, used to calculate how fast the virus is spreading – remains stable at 0.69, the same as last week.

The incidence rate is declining however, with an average 11 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Although the whole of Italy will be in the lowest-risk category from Monday, Speranza urged caution and told Sky TG24 news, “We are still in this challenge.”

Prime Minister Mario Draghi added, “The pandemic is not over.”

Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS) said in a report on Friday the Delta variant now accounted for more than 16% of new cases in the country, and warned that this variant was more contagious and had the potential to be partially resistant to vaccines.

For further details on the current coronavirus situation in Italy, please see the Health Ministry’s website (in English).

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Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

It will still be obligatory for passengers to wear masks on flights to Italy until mid-June, despite the end of the EU-wide requirement on Monday, May 16th, the Italian government has confirmed.

Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

The Italian government reiterated on Friday that its current mask-wearing rules remain in place until June 15th, reports newspaper Corriere della Sera.

This means the mask mandate will still apply to all air passengers travelling to or from Italy, despite the end of an EU-wide requirement to wear masks on flights and at airports across the bloc from Monday.

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

National regulations take precedence, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed when announcing the end of the EU rules.

“Wearing face masks at airports and inflight should be aligned with national measures on wearing masks in public transport and transport hubs,” they said in a joint statement published on May 11th.

READ ALSO: Why are so many Italians still wearing face masks in shops?

“If either the departure or destination States require the wearing of face masks on public transport, aircraft operators should require passengers and crew to comply with those requirements inflight, beyond 16 May 2022.

“Further, as of 16 May 2022, aircraft operators, during their pre-flight communications as well as during the flight, should continue to encourage their passengers and crew members to wear face masks during the flight as well as in the airport, even when wearing a face mask is not required”.

The Spanish government also said on Thursday that air passengers would have to continue wearing face masks on planes.

Italy’s current rules specify that higher-grade FFP2 masks should be worn on all forms of public transport, including buses, trams, regional and high-speed trains, ferries, and planes.

Though rules were eased in some settings from May 1st, masks also remain a requirement until June 15th at Italy’s cinemas and theatres, hospitals and care homes, indoor sporting event and concert venues, schools and universities.