Covid-19: Bologna turns red as whole province goes into lockdown on Thursday

Bologna is living up to its moniker, ‘la rossa’, as the city and the whole province turns red from Thursday March 4th. It joins a growing number of Italian towns and provinces that fall under differing rules aimed at halting the rising number of coronavirus cases.

Covid-19: Bologna turns red as whole province goes into lockdown on Thursday
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

“We could not afford to wait any longer. We risk being overwhelmed,” stated the Governor of Emilia Romagna, Stefano Bonaccini.

“From Monday, the red zone could extend to the whole Emilia Romagna region,” he told newspaper La Repubblica.

As coronavirus cases spike and hospitals appeal for reinforcement in the Bologna province, all the mayors of the metropolitan area voted unanimously on Thursday to adopt a red zone.

The data for the last week of February in the Bologna local health authority area assessed the validity of the area’s dark orange status. The figures show an average of 400 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, with 13 municipalities exceeding 500.

These figures deem the province qualified to enter into a red zone.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: What changes under Italy’s new March emergency decree?

Combined with these numbers, the urgent calls from health workers reporting critical situations in hospitals tipped the balance in favour of applying even more stringent measures.

Bologna’s lockdown is in force until March 21st, and it’s one of dozens of so-called ‘mini lockdowns’ in the country.

What are the rules in Bologna’s red zone?

Among the changes for the province are school closures, which includes moving education online for everyone from nursery children to university students. Nurseries will be closed from March 6th.

Personal care services such as hairdressers and beauty salons will also close from 6th March, stated the Governor Bonaccini.

All shops, except those providing necessities, will also pull down their shutters. Essential shops remaining open include supermarkets, newsagents, animal food retailers, petrol stations and pharmacies.

Bars and restaurants do not face much of a change, as just in the dark orange zone, only takeaways and home delivery are allowed.

Travel and moving around is severely restricted – journeys both into and out of the territories of municipalities, as well as within the same territories, are forbidden. The curfew of 10pm – 5am remains in place.

Unless there’s a necessity, visiting relatives and friends once a day, even within your own municipality, or going to your second home, is also excluded.

Rules under local red zone restrictions can vary, and are subject to change.

Residents are advised to check for changes to local rules as well as following updates from the national government. (Here’s where to find the latest updates from your local authority.)

Italy’s local and regional restrictions

The local directives are intertwined with the national changes contained in the latest emergency decree, also known as the DPCM (Decreto del presidente del consiglio, or ‘prime minister’s decree’). Each region and province can also decide their own rules, based on the local contagion risk.

As the Italian government announced an updated set of coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday, it kept the regional tiered system in place and also paved the way for local lockdowns to continue until at least April 6th.


Health minister Roberto Speranza confirmed the continuing nationwide tier system at a press conference on Tuesday. Which colour a region falls into will be revised based on weekly monitoring reports from the Health Ministry and Higher Health Institute (ISS).

Local restrictions in areas where spikes in infections are detected, such as Bologna, remain “indispensable” in stemming the spread of new variants, according to Speranza.

“Some (additional restrictions) were decided due to the outbreaks of cases caused by the English variant, others to the presence of the Brazilian or South African variant.

“We are aware that they involve sacrifices, but there is no other way at the moment to avoid a worsening of the epidemiological picture,” stated Speranza.

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‘Not offensive’: Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani defended the policy of testing all arrivals from China for Covid-19 after Beijing said the policy "lacks scientific basis".

'Not offensive': Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

“It seems perfectly normal to me,” Tajani told Italian state broadcaster Rai on Tuesday. “Having a test is a way to protect people’s health. There is nothing offensive about it.”

“Lots of Chinese and Italians coming from China do it (anyway),” he claimed.

READ ALSO: Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

Italy was the first European country to make testing on arrival a requirement for passengers arriving on flights from China last week, after a surge in the infection rate there.

Italian Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said on Wednesday that the screening requirement was “essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population”.

READ ALSO: Italy pushes for EU-wide China Covid measures as tests show no new variants

France and Spain have since introduced similar rules (as well as non-EU countries including the UK and USA) and there is now a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability to discuss coordinating measures.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said the screening policy would be “ineffective” if not done on a European level, as only people arriving on direct flights from China were being tested in Italy, not those with stopovers.

But the Chinese government on Tuesday hit out at countries introducing a policy of mandatory testing for people arriving from China.

“Some countries have taken entry restrictions targeting only Chinese travellers,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning was quoted as saying at a briefing by AFP.

“This lacks scientific basis and some practices are unacceptable”.

She said Beijing may “take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity”.