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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, https://www.esteri.it/mae/en/ministero/normativaonline/decreto-iorestoacasa-domande-frequenti/focus-cittadini-italiani-in-rientro-dall-estero-e-cittadini-stranieri-in-italia.html

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For members

COVID-19 RULES

At a glance: What are Italy’s Covid-19 rules this autumn?

Italy has very few pandemic-related restrictions left, but there are still some rules you should be aware of.

At a glance: What are Italy's Covid-19 rules this autumn?

After over two years of Covid-related social and health measures, there are currently very few restrictions in place across Italy. 

But, as Italy’s head of state, Sergio Mattarella, warns that “the virus hasn’t been fully defeated yet” and “collective responsibility” is needed, there are still some rules you need to be aware of. 

READ ALSO: Italy eases Covid measures ahead of new government 

Whether you regularly reside in Italy or are simply planning to visit in the coming weeks, here’s a quick overview of Italy’s Covid rules for the autumn. 

Travel to and within Italy

Travel to Italy for any reason, including tourism, is currently allowed from all countries.

As of June 1st, people are no longer required to show proof of Covid vaccination, recent recovery from the virus or a negative molecular or antigen test result in order to enter the country.

That was the last remaining Covid-related rule in place for travellers – the requirement for arrivals to complete an EU digital passenger locator form (dPLF) had been lifted on May 1st.

Masks

The requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (buses, trains, trams, ferries, etc.) lapsed on Friday, September 30th, after outgoing PM Mario Draghi chose not to renew the mandate in question. 

However, Draghi and his cabinet did extend the requirement to wear face masks in all healthcare settings and care homes, with the rule now expected to expire on October 31st. 

It’s worth noting that anyone refusing to comply with face mask rules can still face fines ranging from a minimum of €400 to a maximum of €1000.

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

Medical staff members walk in a corridor at the Covid-19 intensive care unit of Cremona hospital, in Cremona, northern Italy, on January 11, 2022.

Those in healthcare setting and care homes in Italy must continue to wear masks until at least the end of October. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP.

Though it’s no longer a requirement, the government also continues to advise people to wear masks in all crowded areas, including outdoors.

As for the private sector, all employees working in settings where social distancing is not practicable will be required to wear FFP2 face masks.

The above mandate should expire on October 31st, though a further extension cannot be ruled out at this moment in time.

Green passes

Italy no longer requires people to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a recent negative test result to access indoor settings or public venues.

That means you won’t need to show any form of health certificate in order to eat in a restaurant, visit a museum or use public transport.

However, if you wish to visit a friend or family member in an Italian hospital or care home you will need to produce proof of vaccination or recovery, or the negative result of a molecular or antigen test taken within 48 hours prior to your visit.

READ ALSO: What is Italy’s Covid vaccination plan this autumn?

Proof of vaccination, recent recovery or a negative Covid test is required for those visiting friends or family members in Italian care homes. Photo by Thierry ZOCCOLAN / AFP.

If you’re a foreign national holding a foreign health pass, the Italian government recognises proof of vaccination or recovery issued abroad, provided that it meets certain requirements

For further information on the types of vaccines accepted in Italy, please see the following government memo.

Italian healthcare staff are still required to produce a valid ‘super green pass’ (i.e. the national health pass certifying that the holder has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or has recovered from it) to be able to work.

The above mandate is scheduled to expire on December 31st, with a further extension having already been ruled out by Marcello Gemmato, head of health policy for election winners Brothers of Italy. 

Quarantine rules

Italy still requires anyone who tests positive for coronavirus while in the country to self-isolate, though the minimum isolation period was cut from seven days to five in early September.

In order to exit quarantine, the infected person must be symptomless (with the exception of symptoms relating to loss of taste or smell) for at least two days, and must test negative to a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test at the end of that period.

Quarantine and testing to release is still require for those who test positive for Covid in Italy.

Quarantine and testing to release is still required for those who test positive for Covid in Italy. Photo by Piero Cruciatti / AFP.

Testing should be carried out at a registered pharmacy or testing centre. The results of home tests are not seen as valid for this purpose.

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

Should the patient continue to test positive, they must remain in isolation until they get a negative test result. However, the maximum length of the self-isolation period has been cut to 14 days, down from 21.

The above isolation requirements apply to everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated against Covid or have recently recovered from it.

Finally, those who come into close contact with an infected person but do not show any symptoms are required to wear an FFP2 face mask both indoors and outdoors for the ten days following the day when the contact occurred.

Other restrictions

Italy no longer has any active restrictions on businesses’ opening times or capacity. However, individual businesses can still set different rules than those enforced at a national level.

Moreover, there are currently no restrictions on travel between regions, though local authorities have the power to impose their own measures at any time.

Italian health authorities continue to advise residents to respect social distancing when possible and wash their hands frequently.

For more information about how Italy’s Covid rules may apply to you, see the Italian health ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

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