Italy reopens nightclubs and eases covid rules for theatres, cinemas, stadiums

Italy to reopen nightclubs after a year and a half as maximum capacity for theatres and cinemas raised to 100 per cent.

The Italian government unanimously approved a decree last night that will allow the further opening up of venues in the world of culture, sport and nightlife, with effect from Monday 11 October.

The new rules apply to 'white zones' - the areas with the fewest covid restrictions (currently most of Italy) - and apply exclusively to holders of the Green Pass, the digital or paper certificate that shows people have been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from covid-19.

As of next Monday cinemas and theatres in Italy can operate to a maximum capacity, and fill all their seats, while stadiums and sports facilities can operate at 75 per cent outdoors and 60 per cent indoors.

However the big news affects nightlife, as Italy's nightclubs, discos and dance halls prepare to reopen after a closure of more than a year and a half, with a maximum capacity of 50 per cent indoors and 75 per cent outdoors.

The move comes days after the technical scientific committee (CTS), which advises the government on coronavirus protocols, recommended that nightclubs could reopen with a maximum capacity of 35 per cent indoors and 50 per cent outdoors.

The CTS also said that masks should be mandatory and could only be removed while dancing.

The government's final decision on the maximum capacity was a compromise between the CTS and groups representing nightclub owners which have long lobbied for reopening.

The 50 per cent capacity was welcomed as "a beginning, a glimmer of hope" by the manager of the Praja nightclub in Gallipoli, Pierpaolo Paradiso, who told Italian news agency ANSA that the 75 per cent outdoor capacity rule is of little use right now "as we wait for the snow and not the sun."

Paradiso said that the goal of nightclub owners is to see the capacity raised for their venues, similar to what happened with cinemas and theatres.

Nightclub employees are not included in the capacity restrictions and all closed venues must guarantee ventilation systems without air being recirculated. There will also be tougher penalties for violating the rules.

"The country reopens" - said Italy's minister for public administration Renato Brunetta - "And it is all thanks to vaccinations and the Green Pass."

Details about the Green Pass can be found - in Italian - on the Certificazione Verde website while for official information about the covid-19 situation in Italy - in English - see the health ministry website.