Covid-19: Italy declares new 'orange' zones amid concern over virus variants

Rome and Milan remain in the lower-risk yellow zone.

The regions of Campania (Naples), Emilia Romagna and Molise face tougher covid-19 restrictions from 21 February as they pass from lower-risk 'yellow zones' to medium-risk 'orange zones' under Italy's system of covid-19 restrictions.

Based on a weekly report from the Higher Health Institute (ISS), the order is due to be signed this evening by Italy's health minister Roberto Speranza, and comes amid increasing concerns about the spread of new variants.

"The epidemiological trend shows a slowdown as regards the over-80s and this demonstrates the first effects of the vaccination campaign" - said ISS president Silvio Brusaferro - "underlining the importance of vaccinations."

Brusaferro added that Italy has so far administered 3.3 million doses. However he stressed: "We must act very promptly and aggressively against the variants that are not yet widespread, namely the Brazilian and South African."

"The UK [variant] is more widespread and will become dominant, but we must do everything to limit the others," said Brusaferro.

A statement from the ISS also reminded people that "it is essential to avoid all occasions of contact with people outside their own home that are not strictly necessary and to stay at home as much as possible," reports ANSA.

The colour-coded map from 21 February looks like this:

There are no regions in the highest-risk red zone, although there are local lockdowns in the central Umbria region and the autonomous northern province of Bolzano.

The regions in the medium-risk orange zone category are Abruzzo, Liguria, Bolzano (autonomous province), Trento (autonomous province), Tuscany, Umbria, Campania, Emilia Romagna and Molise.

The lower-risk yellow zones are Basilicata, Calabria, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio (Rome), Lombardia (Milan), Marche, Piedmont, Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily, Valle Aosta and Veneto.

There are still no regions in the lowest-risk white zone.

Red zones: restaurants and bars are closed, except for takeaways and deliveries, and all non-essential shops are closed.

Orange zones: shops can open, restaurants and bars are closed except for takeaway.

Yellow zones, restaurants and bars are open until 18.00, and shops stay open as normal.

A nationwide nightly curfew remains in force from 22.00 until 05.00 with a ban on travel between regions in place until 25 February.

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

Photo credit: Federico Magonio / Shutterstock.com.