Covid-19: Italian government approves new decree to 'reopen' Italy

Italy's new coronavirus decree eases rules affecting internal travel, restaurants, schools and businesses.

The Italian government of premier Mario Draghi on Wednesday approved Italy's latest emergency coronavirus decree providing a roapmap for the significant "reopening" of the country from Monday 26 April.

Under the new decree, valid until 31 July, the existing nightly curfew of 22.00 will be retained until at least 1 June after which it will be assessed, based on covid-19 contagion rates, whether to move it to 23.00 or eliminate it entirely.

The curfew has caused friction within the government coalition, with the right-wing Lega party led by Matteo Salvini abstaining from voting on that part of the decree after Draghi overruled its calls for the curfew to be moved to 23.00. 

The easing of restrictions, which comes amid falling numbers of active coronavirus cases, will see the return of the four-tier colour-coded system, after five weeks of Italy being divided between high-risk red and medium-risk orange zones.

Here are the main points of the new decree, with many of the limitations to be eased gradually:

Travel in Italy

A ban on movement around the country will come to an end, with no travel restrictions between lower-risk yellow zones and the introduction of a 'Green Pass' allowing people to travel between all of Italy's 20 regions.

The Green Pass, valid for six months, can be obtained by those who have recovered from covid-19 or who have been vaccinated against it. Those who present a negative test will be issued with a 48-hour certificate for regional travel.

Until now, travel to and from red and orange regions was only permitted for reasons of work or health, or emergencies.

Restaurants

Restaurants, bars and all catering venues will be able to serve people at outdoor tables at lunch and dinner in yellow zones (and the lowest-risk white zones) from 26 April.

However restaurants without outdoor spaces will not be able to serve customers until 1 June and then only at lunchtime.

Visiting friends and relations

From 26 April until 15 June, in yellow and orange zones, the number of people who can visit friends or relatives in a private home - once a day - is increased to four instead of two, with no limit on children and those who are dependent.

Schools and universities

From 26 April and until the end of the current academic year all school children can attend lessons in the classroom, from kindergarten up to the first grade in middle school, throughout the country.

In-class education is guaranteed for students in the senior years of high school but limited to various capacities, depending on the colour of their region, with the rest of the lessons being taught via distance learning.

Universities will hold lessons primarily on site, with those in red zones recommended to favour first-year students for face-to-face lessons.

Sport and leisure

Outdoor sports can resume on 26 April and swimming pools can reopen from 15 May.

Competition sports can resume from 1 June, with spectators allowed up to 25 per cent of the full capacity of the facility, but not exceeding 500 people indoors or 1,000 outdoors.

Gyms and indoor leisure centres can also reopen from 1 June, again under strict conditions. 

Culture and entertainment

Cinemas, theatres, concerts halls and music clubs will be permitted to stage screenings and live performances indoors under strict conditions and limited capacity. The same limitations on capacity apply (max 500 indoors or 1,000 outdoors).

Museums

Museums, public galleries and archaeological sites can open in yellow zones.

Beaches

Beach clubs or 'stabilimenti' can reopen, under certain restrictions, from 15 May.

Announcing the measures last week, Draghi described the move as a "calculated risk" based on "improving" coronavirus contagion data, adding that "it is possible to look to the future with cautious optimism and confidence."

However, highlighting the need to boost Italy's healthcare system in recent days, Draghi warned: "We don't know how long this pandemic will last."

For full details of the new decree (in Italian) see the Governo Italiano website.

Photo credit: Kirk Fisher / Shutterstock.com.