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HEALTH

Covid-19: What can you do this Easter in lockdown Italy?

As the whole of Italy moves into a red zone from Saturday for three days, Italian authorities step up their police presence. Here's what you can still do legally over the Easter weekend.

Covid-19: What can you do this Easter in lockdown Italy?
Easter eggs on sale in Rome. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Just over a year since Italy was first hit by the outbreak of Covid-19, people in Italy are now facing a second Easter in lockdown.

The decision came to limit movements and gatherings during a national holiday that normally sees Italians visit friends and family or make trips to the seaside.

EXPLAINED:

In a bid to control movement during the Easter weekend, Italian authorities have placed the whole country in the harshest of Covid-19 restrictions, moving every region into a ‘red’ zone.

To bolster lockdown efforts, the Ministry of the Interior has called for increased security, including deploying an extra 70,000 police officers to patrol areas at high risk of assemblies. Those spaces include parks, urban areas, coastlines, roads, train stations, ports and airports.

Italy’s Minister of the Interior, Luciana Lamorgese, defined the surveillance as “rigorous” but balanced during a meeting at the National Committee for Order and Security on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Italy to remain in partial lockdown until end of April

The current orange or red restrictions are in force until midnight on Friday, after which, the whole of Italy will be placed under red zone restrictions for the days of April 3-5th.

‘Red zone’ over Easter for all of Italy

The usual rules for a red zone include a complete ban on moving between municipalities and moving around within your own area, unless it’s for essential reasons, by either public or private transport. You cannot travel to any private home other than your own.

Exceptions are made to this rule over the Easter weekend, however. From April 3rd-5th, you can travel within your region to visit friends and relatives, once a day between 5am and 10pm.

No more than two adults, plus children under 14, should travel together at once.

READ ALSO: 12 Italian Easter foods you have to try at least once

Restaurants and bars are closed to diners, though they can continue to offer takeaway or home delivery.

All cultural sites, including museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres and concert halls, are shut.

In red zones, shops are closed except for those deemed essential, which include supermarkets and other food shops, tabacchi (tobacconists/newsagents), and pharmacies. Children’s clothes shops are also open.

Religious services can continue to take place, with social distancing and other precautions.

Chocolate bunnies in Switzerland
Photo: Stefan Wermuth / AFP

Hairdressers and beauticians will be closed. 

All team sports activities are suspended. Solo exercise such as running or walking is allowed.

Travel to a second home is allowed only if you can prove you had the right to enter the property (as owner or tenant) before January 14th 2021.

This means new short-term rentals are not allowed, and you can’t stay with relatives: “The house of destination must not be inhabited by people not belonging to the family unit”, according to the health ministry. 

Some regions have placed their own restrictions on visits from non-residents over Easter.

READ ALSO: ‘Don’t come’: Italian regions seek to stop second-home owners visiting

Apart from this exception for second homes, Italy has a nationwide travel ban on all non-essential journeys between regions. Whichever zone they’re in, people are only supposed to leave their own region for urgent reasons like work or medical emergencies.

Italy also has a national curfew in place every night between 10pm and 5am.

If you need to leave the house between these hours, or travel between towns or regions, or within a red zone, you should be prepared to fill in a self-declaration form justifying the reasons for your trip. 

Please note The Local is not able to advise on specific situations.  For more information on the restrictions please see the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).

Member comments

  1. Total contradiction! No wonder people are confused: ….

    “The current orange or red restrictions are in force until midnight on Friday, after which, the whole of Italy will be placed under red zone restrictions for the days of April 3-5th.

    ‘Red zone’ over Easter for all of Italy

    The usual rules for a red zone include a complete ban on moving between municipalities and moving around within your own area, unless it’s for essential reasons, by either public or private transport. You cannot travel to any private home other than your own.

    Exceptions are made to this rule over the Easter weekend, however. From April 3rd-5th, you can travel within your region to visit friends and relatives, once a day between 5am and 10pm.

    No more than two adults, plus children under 14, should travel together at once.”

    Andrew Chmielewski

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HEALTH

Q&A: What you need to know about Italy’s West Nile virus outbreak

As Italy records a surge in cases of West Nile fever, we look at what the disease is and where in the country it's spreading.

Q&A: What you need to know about Italy's West Nile virus outbreak

Mosquitos are unfortunately one downside of summer in Italy. But as well as being a nuisance, they may also pose a health risk in the country – one of the few in Europe to record cases of West Nile virus (WNV)

READ ALSO: Cases of West Nile fever surge in northern Italy

Last week Italy recorded 50 more cases of the mosquito-borne virus, bringing the total number of infections to 144 according to the latest report from Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS).

This marked a 53-percent increase in cases against the previous week, while ten people have died so far.

As the number of infections continues to rise, here are the answers to the most pressing questions about the disease and the outbreak in Italy.

What is it?

The West Nile Virus (WNV) is a single-stranded RNA virus that can cause West Nile fever in humans.

It’s a member of the Flavivirus family together with other endemic viruses such as the Zika and Dengue viruses.

The virus was first identified in 1937 in Uganda’s West Nile district but has since spread to many other parts of the world, to the point that it is now considered indigenous to Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. 

Carried by birds, West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes.

The West Nile virus is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes of the Culex species, which infect humans and other mammals through their bite, according to Italy’s health ministry.

There is no evidence that human-to-human transmission is possible.

Where are cases being reported in Italy?

Infections have been largely concentrated in the north of the country, especially in the Veneto region, where six people have now died of the disease. Other deaths were recorded in Lombardy, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna.

The city of Padua, which is located in Veneto’s mainland, around 35 kilometres away from the Adriatic coast, is currently regarded as the hotspot of the virus. 

It isn’t yet clear why Veneto has been the worst-hit region so far, but experts fear that its marshy lowlands might be the perfect breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes. 

A mosquito of the Culex species viewed under a microscope.

Mosquitoes of the Culex species, a specimen of which is pictured above, are responsible for transmitting the West Nile Virus to humans and other mammals. Photo by Jon CHERRY Getty Images / AFP

How severe is the outbreak in Italy?

West Nile virus is not new to Italy. However, this summer has brought the highest number of cases recorded yet.

National infection levels remain relatively low but the country has by far the largest number of cases in Europe.

According to the most recent report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), dated August 3rd, 94 out of 120 recorded cases were in Italy.

Greece had 23 reported cases. Romania and Slovakia had two and one respectively. 

Italy is the only European country that has reported fatalities.

What are the symptoms?

According to the Italian Higher Health Institute (ISS), around 80 percent of infected people show no symptoms whatsoever.

In symptomatic cases, however, symptoms generally resemble those of a common flu and include fever, headaches, nausea and diarrhoea. 

The infection is usually only dangerous for people with weakened immune systems such as the elderly, and the most severe symptoms occur in fewer than one percent of infected people.

In healthy people, the virus is unlikely to cause more than a headache or sore throat, and symptoms generally last only a few days.

According to the data currently available, around one in 150 infected people can show symptoms as serious as partial vision loss, convulsions and paralysis. 

In very rare cases (around 0.1 percent, or one in 1000) the disease can cause brain infections (encephalitis or meningitis) which may eventually be fatal.

Brazilian biologists handle mosquito larvae.

There is currently no vaccine against West Nile disease, though several are being tested. Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP

Is there a cure?

There is no vaccine against West Nile fever. “Currently vaccines are being studied, but for the moment prevention consists mainly in reducing exposure to mosquito bites,” the ISS states.

There is also no specific treatment for the disease caused by the virus.

Patients showing the more serious symptoms are usually admitted to hospital and treated with IV fluids and assisted ventilation.

What should you do to protect yourself?

Seeing as there is currently no vaccine against the virus, the best way to protect oneself is by reducing exposure to mosquitoes as much as possible.

Italian health authorities have listed a number of official recommendations to help residents avoid mosquito bites. These include: 

  • Use repellent
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers when being outdoors and especially during ​​mosquitoes’ peak activity times, i.e. sunrise and sunset
  • Use mosquito nets on your windows or sleep in rooms with air-conditioning and keep the windows closed
  • Make sure there are no pools of stagnant water around your house

See more information about West Nile virus in Italy on the health ministry’s website.

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