Home by 10pm or midnight? Italy considers relaxing its curfew from next week

As the Italian government begins to ease coronavirus restrictions, one measure still hotly disputed is the nightly 10pm curfew. Could it be pushed back next week? Here's what we know so far.

Home by 10pm or midnight? Italy considers relaxing its curfew from next week
Will the Italian government relax the current curfew of 10pm? (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

The political debate continues about the nightly ban on movement between 10pm and 5am, especially since restaurants were allowed to re-open for dinner in low-risk yellow zones.

A change to the measure might come into force as early as next week, and could see the curfew pushed back to 11pm or midnight. Or, if some politicians get their way, it could even be scrapped altogether ahead of the summer season.

READ MORE: Quarantine, curfew and weddings: What rules will Italy relax next?

So who’s for and against the change?

Broadly, the right-wing League and its supporters are pushing for the curfew to be relaxed or scrapped.

Though not ruling it out, Health Minister Roberto Speranza is taking a more cautious view, calling for a more gradual approach based on the latest data.

Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza isn’t against relaxing the curfew, but urges caution. (Photo: POOL / AFP)

It’s another tug of war between boosting the economy and protecting public health.

“Re-openings, re-openings, re-openings,” urged League leader Matteo Salvini. “Back to work, day and night and without curfew, trusting the Italians.” 

Others are also for easing measures without scrapping them altogether.

Friuli Venezia-Giulia’s governor Massimiliano Fedriga has called for a more relaxed curfew of 11pm to 5am. Interior Ministry undersecretary Carlo Sibilia, on the other hand, is in favour of starting the curfew at midnight.

READ MORE: What will Italy’s coronavirus rules be for summer 2021?

Thinking of the summer season, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has also called for “lighter measures to attract tourists to Italy”.

Easing the curfew by an hour or two would surely make for a more a relaxed dining experience.

Any decision will depend on the latest weekly epidemiological data, released every Friday by Italy’s top health institute, the ISS. The figures have been slowly improving for several weeks now.

“Given that the choice comes down to politics, and given that Friday’s numbers will be used to make decisions, I believe that there is scope for a further extension of the time when movement is restricted,” commented the head of the government’s committee of scientific advisors, Franco Locatelli.

“As for whether it’s 11pm or midnight, that’s up to the government,” he told Italian TV channel Rai3 on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Will Italy relax the Covid mask-wearing rules this summer?

Other health experts have expressed concern about the talk of relaxing curfew. Massimo Galli, director of Infectious Diseases at Milan’s Sacco Hospital, told Rai3: “I realise that there are the needs of those who have their main economic activity in the evening and are not able to survive, but that’s another matter from a strictly epidemiological point of view.”

He conceded that some contact is inevitable in order to keep the country moving, but there had to be sacrifice or “downsizing” somewhere.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Andrea Crisanti, director of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Padua: “The curfew reduces the likelihood of people meeting each other and therefore transmitting the virus,” he told TV news programme LA7.

READ ALSO: Who is eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine in your region of Italy?

France recently announced plans to phase out its curfew by the end of June, while Spain scrapped its curfew altogether this week – prompting street parties and a rebuke from the government.

Meanwhile Germany says people who have been fully vaccinated are exempt from curfew and other rules.

Italy’s government is expected to announce a decision after Prime Minister Mario Draghi next meets with the cabinet on Monday May 17th, making Tuesday May 18th the earliest date that the curfew could change.

Monday’s meeting is also expected to result in new plans for the reopening of travel, indoor dining, gyms, shopping centres and other businesses over the coming weeks.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”