Italy post-lockdown: social distancing, masks and tracking app

Italy to introduce app to speed up tracking coronavirus contagion during post-lockdown phase.

Italian premier Giuseppe Conte has said that social distancing measures and the wearing of face masks will be required in Italy's Phase Two of the coronavirus emergency "until a vaccine is available", reports Italian news agency ANSA.

The prime minister, who was addressing the Italian senate on 21 April, also stated that the new coronavirus-tracking app would be voluntary, confirming that there would be no penalties for those who fail to sign up to the scheme.

The mobile contact-tracing app, whose development by Milan-based startup Bending Spoons is in the final stages, will be used to track the contacts of people who have tested positive for coronavirus.

The Immuni app will respect security and privacy, according to Domenico Arcuri, the government's special commissioner for the coronavirus emergency, who told ANSA that the alternative was "more deprivation of liberty."

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Each smartphone with the app installed will emit regularly an anonymous ID code that can be detected within a few metres by other smartphone users with the same app.

If one of the app-users reports that they have tested positive for the coronavirus, the system makes it possible to inform the people with whom they have been in close contact over previous days.

Authorities say that the app meets the criteria set by the EU: it is voluntary, anonymous and uses bluetooth technology.

However, for the app to be effective - Arcuri says - it will need to be used by at least 60 per cent of the Italian population.