October 2020 – Italy’s New Covid Restrictions: A Primer

As Italy registered 11,705 coronavirus cases in a day, the Italian Government kicked into action in an attempt to contain the “second wave” of the virus and avoid the crisis situation the country experienced in March of this year.

On Sunday October 18, Italian premier Giuseppe Conte issued a new decreto, or decree, outlining a series of new restrictions.

At a time when people have become lax about the rules — some saying that “the increased numbers are due to increased testing”, while others have accepted and normalized the inevitability of the virus and thus have adopted a fatalistic approach, or worse, those who believe it is a hoax concocted by government and big pharma to sell vaccines — the measures announced seem to be mild. They take into consideration, first and foremost, the flailing economy as well as the general fatigue being experienced across the country. Is it too little? Only time will tell…

The new decree states the following:

  • Mayors will have the power to close off streets and squares, where crowds tend to assemble, after 9pm, granting access only to businesses and local residents.
  • Bars and restaurants must close by midnight. The consumption of food and drink will be permitted at tables only (no standing cafe’ style or buffet) with a limit of six people per table, from 6pm until midnight.
  • Customers not seated at tables can only be served until 6pm. Takeaway service is allowed until midnight. Businesses may not reopen again until 5am.
  • Schools will remain open, however high schools are asked to stagger students’ entry and exit times to prevent congestion, with no entry until 9.00am and the option to extend lessons into the afternoons when many schools are normally closed.
  • Schools must also increase the “flexibility” of digital learning which “remains complementary to face-to-face teaching.
  • Smart-working is to be actively encouraged and increased.
  • Contact sports at an amateur level, including competitions, remain prohibited unless authorized by officially-recognized sporting commissions.
  • Community festivals and local fairs are banned, however national and international fairs are permitted.
  • Bingo halls, betting shops and amusement arcades must close by 9pm.
  • Hair dressers, barbers and beauty salons will remain open.

A decision on whether to close gyms and swimming pools is set to be made later this week depending on whether or not they meet the required covid-19 prevention protocols.

Italy also extended a state of emergency until January 31st, giving authorities special powers to enact or modify anti covid-19 measures quickly, cutting through red tape to implement, when required.

Last week the government ruled on:

Private parties : Not more than 6 guests from outside the household.

Nightlife: Discos and nightclubs remain closed.

Ceremonies: Civil or religious ceremonies such as weddings remain permitted, with parties of up to 30 people allowed following the ceremony in compliance with existing covid-19 protocols.

Masks: The decree requires people to carry a protective face mask in public at all times with the obligation to wear it in all enclosed public spaces, as well as outdoors “when in proximity to others not from the same household”. Also now applicable, a €1,000 fine for not wearing mask in public. The measure applies to everyone except children under the age of six, people with disabilities preventing them from wearing masks, and those engaged in physical exercise or sport. The decree “strongly recommends” the wearing of masks “even in private homes in the presence of non-cohabitants”.

Quarantine: The period of isolation at home for those who come into contact with a person that has tested positive for covid-19, as confirmed by health authorities, has been reduced from 14 days to 10 days.

Stadium Attendance: The public is allowed to attend sporting events at stadiums filling no more than 15 % of the arena’s total capacity, with no more than 1,000 spectators outdoors and 200 indoors. Spectators must maintain interpersonal distance of one metre and have their temperature checked at the stadium entrance.

Cinema, theatre and concerts: The same measures apply as above: 1,000 spectators outdoors and 200 indoors with social distancing measures in place as well as temperature checks on arrival.

Schools: Schools remain open with staggered schedules and combined at school and at home classes. All school trips and educational outings have been banned.

For now Conte has ruled out another nationwide lockdown but has said that regional lockdowns could be used if necessary.

For official data and information relating to the covid-19 situation in Italy see the health ministry website.

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