Covid-19: Most of Italy under lockdown again as country battles new wave of infections

Schools, restaurants, shops and museums closed across most of Italy on Monday amid a new wave of Covid-19 infections.

Covid-19: Most of Italy under lockdown again as country battles new wave of infections
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The Italian government announced on Friday that most of the country would effectively be under lockdown – in either the ‘red’ or ‘orange’ zone – following a fresh surge in infections.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said he hoped the measures and vaccination programme would allow restrictions to be relaxed in the second half of spring.

“Each dose of vaccine injected is a step in the direction of the way out of the crisis,” he said on Sunday.

Despite immunisation programmes gathering pace, surges in infections remain a threat, and Italian authorities reimposed restrictions on three quarters of the country until April 6th to suppress an outbreak fuelled by a Covid-19 variant first detected in Britain.

The streets of central Rome were quiet Monday morning as the new restrictions took hold, which were sure to further bruise businesses already battered by a year of anti-virus measures.

“I didn’t expect it. We live from day to day,” said barista Ana Cedeno as she prepared take-out coffees for a few customers.

“We have lost a lot of money, because our customers have no money.”

All non-essential shops were closed from Monday, including in Rome and Milan, with residents told to stay home except for work, health or other essential reasons.

From Monday, every region with more than 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants (according to official weekly health data) would be moved automatically into the highest-risk red zone, a spokesman for Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office said.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi delivers a speech during a visit to a new vaccination centre at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on Friday. Photo: GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE/POOL/AFP.

New restrictions will be in place until at least Easter, when all of Italy would be under ‘red’ zone restrictions over the weekend of April 3-5, the prime minister’s office has confirmed.

The only exception to the restrictions is Sardinia, which is Italy’s only “white zone”.

On Friday, Draghi thanked Italians for their “infinite patience” and said the new measures would be accompanied by fresh support for families and businesses.

But he acknowledged there would be “consequences for the education of children, for the economy and also for the psychological state of us all”.

Ministers said enhanced measures were needed after weeks of rising numbers in most parts of the country.

Italy registered almost 27,000 new Covid-19 infections on Friday and 380 deaths.

The latest official health data on Friday showed that the critical Rt number (which shows the contagion rate) had risen again this week, from 1.06 to 1.16.

Hospitals and intensive care units are now under pressure in most Italian regions, reported Italy’s evidence-based medicine foundation GIMBE on Thursday.

“The trend of the contagion curve shows the start of the third wave,” GIMBE head Nino Cartabellotta told Rai News.

Find all of The Local’s latest updates on the coronavirus situation in Italy here.

Member comments

  1. It seems a shame that things have started to turn bad in Italy as things are improving in the UK. It could be a long time before I see my family in the UK even if the UK meet their target of near normality by June.

    I took residency in Italy in 2020 as I wanted to live somewhere different before we lost freedom of movement. Now I have my residency rights protected by the withdrawal agreement. How much time do I need to spend in Italy to maintain these rights? For example if I spend too long (once we get back to normal) in the UK or on holiday outside of Italy would I lose my residency rights?

  2. If you have a temporary residence permit with an expiry date then you must spend 6 months and a day in Italy per year to maintain residency.

  3. I’m arriving to Italy on April 3rd from the US (covid-tested flight to Rome). Does anyone know if the trains are still running from the airport to Florence? Not sure what will happen since the entire country will be on lockdown for those few days.

    1. You can check that from Trenitalia’s website. The search on the frontpage should have up-to-date timetables. There should be a solution but possibly not a direct train.

      1. By “airport” do you mean FCO? I assume the FCO-Termini trains will be running; the airports are not closed, there are flights arriving and leaving every day, and people (including airline and airport employees) need to get to and from the airport. As for intercity, the Frecciarosa was running constantly during the last red zone lockdown, and the carriages were packed albeit at half capacity. I traveled often between Rome and Milan for work during red zone, there was no problem other than the need to book in advance because the trains fill up quickly at half seating. The current rules are not as strict as the first total lockdown last spring. Today I even saw a few clothing stores open in Rome although clearly that is not allowed. It’s Italy…vabbè.

        1. Yes, I meant the frecciargento trains that normally run twice a day from FCO direct to Florence. I don’t see any direct trains listed on the Trenitalia website, only those going through FCO-Termini. If I can’t get a direct to Florence train (from FCO), the backup plan is to take the train to Termini then take a frecciarossa to Florence. I was just trying to avoid that if it was possible but it doesn’t look like it is.

    2. As a friendly reminder be sure to have your papers ready and the permesso di soggiorno card ready to show. When my husband returned to Italy from the US last July, they were especially interested to see his PdS, the self-declaration form, and oddly enough asked him how much money he had on him. Here is the link to the form,

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EXPLAINED: Has Italy still got any Covid rules in place?

Italy is blissfully free of Covid restrictions this summer - or is it? Here's what you need to know about the country's few remaining rules.

EXPLAINED: Has Italy still got any Covid rules in place?

If you thought Italy’s Covid rules ought to have more or less expired by now, you’d be right – almost. 

There are essentially no travel restrictions, no vaccination or testing obligations, and very few situations in which people are required to mask up.

However, a few nationwide health rules do remain in place that are worth knowing about.

Here’s what they are.


One notable exception to Italy’s Covid rule relaxations is the continued requirement to wear a mask in parts of health and residential care facilities that house vulnerable or immunosuppressed patients.

This rule had been due to expire on April 30th, but was renewed by decree on April 29th and will remain in place until the end of the year.

READ ALSO: What to expect when travelling to Italy in summer 2023

That means if you work in such a facility or need to visit a friend or family member there, you should come equipped with a mask.

Under-6’s, people whose disability prevents them from wearing a mask, and carers for whom wearing a mask would prevent them from communicating with a disabled patient are the only exceptions.


Then there are the quarantine rules.

‘Italy still has quarantine rules?!’ you ask incredulously.

According to former health director Giovanni Rezza, who retired this May, the answer is yes.

It was Rezza who signed off on a health ministry decree dated December 31st, 2022 that established the country’s latest quarantine restrictions.

Tourists visiting Italy no longer face Covid-related restrictions, though rules may apply in some circumstances. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

That decree says that those who test positive but are asymptomatic must self-isolate for five days, or until they test negative at a pharmacy or health facility – whichever happens sooner.

Those who do experience symptoms should either test negative before exiting quarantine, or wait until they are symptomless for at least two days.

At the end of the isolation period, those who have left quarantine without taking a test are required to wear a high-grade FFP2 mask in public until the tenth day since the onset of symptoms or first positive test result.

READ ALSO: What are the upcoming strikes in Italy and how could they impact you?

People who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid should wear an FFP2 mask in public until the fifth day since the last point of contact.

Earlier this month, Rezza told journalists at the national broadcaster Rai that since no expiration date was stipulated, the decree remains in force indefinitely.

The health ministry doesn’t appear to have weighed in on the matter, so for now it should be assumed that the quarantine rules are still active.

Of course, this all relies on the honour system, as most Covid tests these days are taken (if at all) in people’s own homes without the knowledge or involvement of state health authorities.


Finally, there have been some recent reports of new international travel restrictions specifically relating to China.

There has been talk of Italy’s airports reintroducing tests for arrivals from China. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP.

Towards the end of May, newspapers La Stampa and La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno reported that Covid tests had been reintroduced at Italy’s airports for arrivals from China, which has seen an uptick in cases.

However, neither the health ministry website nor the Foreign Ministry’s Viaggiare Sicuri (‘Travel Safe’) website appear to have published any updates to this effect.

In December 2022, Italy’s health ministry mandated that all arrivals from China must produce a recent negative test result before leaving for Italy and to take a test on arrival, though this rule was due to expire at the end of January.