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All Italian regions but one to drop Covid restrictions from Monday as infection rate falls further

Italy’s health ministry has allowed all regions except for Valle d'Aosta to drop most remaining coronavirus-related rules from Monday following this week's health data review.

All Italian regions but one to drop Covid restrictions from Monday as infection rate falls further
Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Health Minister Roberto Speranza on Friday signed an ordinance putting the whole country, except for the northern region of Valle d’Aosta, into the low-restriction ‘white zone’.

The ministry reviewed regional restrictions following the findings of the latest health data report published on Friday, which showed that the rate of new infections in the country remained low.

EXPLAINED: What are the rules in Italy’s coronavirus ‘white zones’?

The national average Rt reproduction number, which shows the rate of new infections, was steady at 0.69 (it was 0.68 last week).

Italy’s national average 7-day incidence rate had fallen from 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants to 16.

To be placed in the low-restriction white zone, regions must have registered fewer than 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants for three weeks consecutively.

The classification means regional authorities are allowed to drop most of the remaining coronavirus restrictions earlier than planned under the national roadmap for reopening.

So far, only mask-wearing and social distancing rules must remain in place in white zones, the health minister has said. House parties and large gatherings are also forbidden.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy: What’s the risk of another Covid-19 surge?

For now, nightclubs and discos are still waiting for a firm date for reopening, and it is not known if or when Italy may relax the rules on wearing masks outdoors.

Italy’s evening curfew – which is not applicable in white zones – currently starts at midnight and will be scrapped completely on June 21st.

The final set of rules in each region depends on the local authority, as each is free to impose stricter rules than those set by the national government.

The Italian health ministry on Friday meanwhile announced it will reinstate a mandatory quarantine requirement for all UK arrivals from Monday amid concerns about the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant.

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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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