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Italy loses almost one million jobs in a year to the coronavirus crisis

In coronavirus-stricken Italy, almost one million people lost their jobs over the course of a year, official data showed on Tuesday, fuelling fresh concerns about the cost of the pandemic.

Italy loses almost one million jobs in a year to the coronavirus crisis
Protests in Rome on Tuesday against Italy’s continued coronavirus closures. The banners read: "Time’s up. I need to work for a living" and "I will open" Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

In February, the number of employed people stood at just under 22.2 million, broadly stable from January, but down by 945,000 compared with February 2020, national statistics office Istat said.

The labour market slump was widespread, affecting male and female workers, salaried workers and the self-employed, and “all age groups”, it said.

Over the same period, the unemployment rate rose slightly, from 9.8 percent to 10.2 per cent, but the ranks of those out of work and not looking for a job swelled dramatically.

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Francesco Seghezzi, a labour market expert who leads the Adapt think tank, said “one million jobs [lost] in a year is an enormous figure”.

Noting that the crisis was hitting younger people and those with precarious jobs hardest, he warned that a “rebalancing is needed, or a generation is at risk”.

The number of so-called “inactives” rose by 717,000, to more than 14 million. But they are excluded from unemployment statistics – thus explaining the modest rise in the jobless rate.

Italy in February this year recorded its biggest contraction in GDP since the end of World War II, marking one of the worst economic slumps in Europe.

Cgil, the country’s main trade union, called Tuesday’s labour data “tragic” and said it justified a further extension of temporary welfare measures introduced to soften the impact of the pandemic.

The government has tried to protect workers by subsidising furlough schemes and prohibiting employers from firing staff.

That ban is currently valid until late June, and was extended to late October for some industries.

Small business owners and employees protested in cities across Italy on Tuesday after the government announced restrictions, including closures of restaurants, bars and most shops, would continue throughout April.

Italy’s coronavirus pandemic began in late February 2020, and the country was the first in Europe to declare a national lockdown in early March.

Member comments

  1. You mean open like in the United States with their moron Trump where there are now over 560,000 deaths? Or Brazil with their genius President? Maybe you don’t have grandparents or family here but those of us who do are happy to still have them around. Sorry you couldn’t meet up with friends over Christmas (Easter you could meet one familial group once per day) to pass around Covid like presents…
    Pllllease…

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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