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COVID-19 RULES

MAP: The Italian regions becoming ‘yellow’ zones in December

With Italy enforcing stricter Covid rules as the country’s infection rate climbs, more regions are turning into a more restricted 'yellow' zone. Here are the areas becoming - or likely to be - yellow in December.

More regions in Italy are turning into 'yellow' zones.
More regions in Italy are turning into 'yellow' zones. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

In a race to avert Christmas lockdowns as the fourth wave of Covid-19 spreads throughout Europe, the Italian governmnt has placed many parts of the country under a higher risk category.

Friuli Venezia Giulia, Calabria and the autonomous province of Bolzano have already been placed in the moderate-risk ‘yellow’ zone after exceeding all of the Italian government’s criteria for tougher anti-Covid measures, and four more regions are now set to follow from Monday December 20th: 

As infections continue to rise across Italy and concern grows over the possible impact of the new Omicron variant, more regions are likely to change colour in the coming weeks under Italy’s four-tiered system of coronavirus restrictions

Under this system, ‘white’ zone areas are under the most relaxed rules, and ‘yellow’, ‘orange’ and ‘red’ zones under increasingly strict measures.

This map shows the total of seven regions and autonomous provinces in the ‘yellow’ zone from Monday.

Let’s take a look at the statistics behind the changes.

Under a law introduced by Italy’s government in July, any region above the threshold of 10 percent ICU and 15 percent general ward Covid patient occupancy and with a new weekly incident rate of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants should automatically be placed in the yellow zone.

The three zones already in the yellow zone have exceeded this threshold and from Monday, Veneto, Marche, Liguria and the Province of Trento are set to join them, according to the latest data provided by Agenas, Italy’s National Agency for Health Services.

READ ALSO: What are Italy’s new rules for Covid ‘yellow’ zones?

Veneto has now superseded these parameters with 15 percent intensive care occupancy and 16 percent general admissions. Its incident rate has way exceeded the threshold, at 441.82 cases per 100,000 cases for last week.

Marche stands at 14 percent for ICU occupancy and 16 percent for ordinary hospital admissions, with an incident rate of 200.48.

Meanwhile, Liguria has registered 14 percent intensive care occupancy and 18 percent general Covid occupancy with an incident rate of 231.88, while the autonomous province of Trento stands at 21 percent for ICU versus 18 percent for general admissions with an incident rate of 255.17.

But further regions could also join this map in December.

Based on the health data, the map below shows the other regions projected to turn into a ‘yellow’ zone this month, as they are now approaching the parameters named above.

South Tyrol

Bolzano is already a ‘yellow’ zone and the region’s other autonomous province is set to follow from Monday.

The region’s previous ordinance that had placed 36 municipalities in localised ‘red’ zones due to particularly high incidence of infection and below-average vaccination rates wasn’t extended after it expired on December 5th.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Italy considers bringing back outdoor mask requirement

With that, the obligation to wear masks outdoors has been dropped and restaurants no longer need to stick to a maximum of four people at one table or the 6pm closing time.

Valle d’Aosta

Valle d’Aosta’s general admissions have declined over recent weeks to 18 percent, but this is still above the threshold for this criterion. However, the region is at 6 percent for intensive care occupancy, which even though it has increased, is still lower than the 10 percent threshold.

The incident rate has already way exceeded the limit however, at 310.75.

Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Umbria

This region has met the threshold for ICU occupancy at 10 percent, but is still behind in the occupation of ordinary wards, which is recorded at 7 percent. The incident rate, like in most regions, has passed the threshold and is recorded at 120.92.

Lazio

Lazio is beginning to approach the parameters of a ‘yellow’ zone with its 12 percent of intensive care occupancy, already in excess for this paramater, and 13 percent for ordinary hospitalisations. Their incident rate has reached 192.12.

Lombardy

Lombardy has narrowly avoided meeting the criteria for a ‘yellow’ zone this week, with its 10 percent ICU occupancy and 14 percent for general admissions. Its incident rate now stands at 194.87.

That means its margin of 1 percent for ordinary Covid patients has saved the region from tighter restrictions.

However, with numbers so close to the threshold, it’s possible that the region will meet the parameters by Christmas.

Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

Emilia Romagna

This region has already passed the threshold for ICU occupancy at 12 percent, but its general admissions are still under the limit at 11 percent.

The incident rate is also way above the threshold of 50 and currently stands at 251.04.

If intensive care occupancy continues to rise, the region could turn into a ‘yellow’ zone before the end of the year.

Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

The rules in ‘yellow’ zones

Should these regions join Friuli Venezia Giulia, Calabria and Bolzano in becoming a yellow zone, people will be required to wear a mask both outdoors and in indoor public spaces, and restaurants can seat a maximum of four diners to a table.

While those in a yellow zone will still be required to mask up outdoors, under the new rules, people who hold the ‘super green pass’ will be able to access “indoor catering”, shows (such as theatre performances), parties, nightclubs, sporting events, and “public ceremonies”, as normal.

READ ALSO: ‘Super green pass’: How is Italy enforcing the new Covid rules?

The ‘super green pass’ health certificate can be obtained only by those who are vaccinated against or have recovered from Covid-19. It came into force on December 6th and is a mandatory document to access most venues and services across the country.

It reinforces the basic ‘green pass’, which was also available to those who had recently tested negative for the virus. However, the basic green pass will still be valid for use on public transport and to access workplaces.

Could any region move into an orange zone in December?

So far, the data points towards no regions as a whole moving into the higher risk orange zone, requiring even tighter measures in place.

To move from a yellow to an orange zone, a region must record a weekly incidence of infection rate of 150 or more per 100,000 inhabitants and to have simultaneously exceeded the occupancy limits for general and intensive care beds in the yellow zone. That means over 20 percent occupancy for ICU beds and 30 percent for general hospital admissions.

Friuli Venezia Giulia is currently recording the highest Covid figures in the country based on these three parameters, but isn’t getting close to the ‘orange’ zone criteria – with 18 percent ICU occupancy, 23 percent for general admissions and an infection rate of 357.04.

Should any region experience a spike in these criteria and meet all the thresholds for an ‘orange’ zone, the area’s residents would face tougher restrictions, mainly affecting travel.

In an orange zone, you can only move freely within your own municipality apart from reasons of work, health or necessity. An exception to this is if the town has fewer than 5,000 inhabitants – but you still couldn’t go to the provincial capital.

Member comments

  1. The knee jerk reactions in this country to case data is shocking. How a country with such high vaccination uptake can reinstate restrictions, DAD schooling is unforgivable. Funny how the media don’t spend 5 minutes comparing Italy’s approach with that of the UK or Scandanavia? I’m constantly surprised how willingly Italians eat up the panic and give up their freedom, too many people get their news from TV alone and it shows.

  2. Hi Mike,
    As an American with pulmonary issues, I much prefer Italy’s cautionary approach rather than USA/UK anything goes approach to COVID restrictions. Do what we gotta do to avoid the worst.

  3. Adjusting for population, it looks as if death rate in UK is about 50% higher that in Italy. I’m in favour of taking sensible precautions.

  4. As an American who needs to travel back and forth to California from Italy regularly, I am grateful for the caution of Italian authorities.

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COVID-19 RULES

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

The health ministry is reviewing its quarantine requirements as the country's Covid-19 health situation improved again this week, according to Italian media reports.

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

Italy has taken a more cautious approach to Covid in recent months than many of its European neighbours, keeping strict isolation rules in place for anyone who tests positive for the virus.

But this could be set to change in the coming days, according to media reports, as one of Italy’s deputy health ministers said the government is about to cut the isolation period for asymptomatic cases.

“Certainly in the next few days there will be a reduction in isolation for those who are positive but have no symptoms,” Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa said in a TV interview on the political talk show Agorà on Tuesday.

“We have to manage to live with the virus,” he said.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reported that the compulsory isolation period could be reduced to 48 hours for those who test positive but remain asymptomatic – provided they subsequently test negative after the day two mark.

Under Italy’s current rules, vaccinated people who test positive must stay in isolation for at least seven days, and unvaccinated people for ten days – regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms.

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

At the end of the isolation period, the patient has to take another test to exit quarantine. Those who test negative are free to leave; those who remain positive must stay in isolation until they get a negative test result, up to a maximum of 21 days in total (at which point it doesn’t matter what the test result says).

Health ministry sources indicated the new rules would cut the maximum quarantine period to 15 or even 10 days for people who continue to test positive after the initial isolation period is up, La Stampa said.

The government is believed to be reviewing the rules as the latest official data showed Covid infection and hospitalisation rates were slowing again this week, as the current wave of contagions appeared to have peaked in mid-July.

However, the national Rt number (which shows the rate of transmission) remained above the epidemic threshold, and the number of fatalities continued to rise.

The proposed changes still aren’t lenient enough for some parties. Regional authorities have been pushing for an end to quarantine altogether, even for people who are actively positive – an idea Costa appears sympathetic to.

“The next step I think is to consider the idea of even eliminating the quarantine, perhaps by wearing a mask and therefore being able to go to work,” he told reporters.

“We must review the criteria for isolation, to avoid blocking the country again”.

At least one health expert, however, was unenthusiastic about the proposal.

Dr Nino Cartabellotta, head of Italy’s evidence-based medicine group Gimbe, tweeted on Tuesday: “There are currently no epidemiological or public health reasons to abolish the isolation of Covid-19 positives”

Massimo Andreoni, professor of Infectious Diseases at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Tor Vergata University of Rome, was more ambivalent about the prospect.

The isolation requirement for asymptomatic cases should be “revised somewhat in the light of the epidemiological data”, he told reporters, but urged “a minimum of precaution, because the less the virus circulates and the fewer severe cases there are, the fewer new variants arise”.

When the question was last raised at the end of June, Health Minister Roberto Speranza was firmly against the idea of lifting quarantine requirements for people who were Covid positive.

“At the moment such a thing is not in question,” he told newspaper La Repubblica at the time. “Anyone who is infected must stay at home.”

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