Italy starts to move regions into covid 'white zones'

Three Italian regions move from moderate-risk yellow zones to lowest-risk white zones.

The Italian regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Molise and Sardinia will become 'white zones' - the lowest-risk category under Italy's colour-coded system of coronavirus restrictions - from Monday 31 May.

To be classified as a white zone, a region must have registered fewer than 50 covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for three consecutive weeks.

The rest of Italy will remain in the moderate-risk 'yellow zone' however from 7 June the regions of Abruzzo, Liguria, Umbria and Veneto are expected to turn 'white', if the current downward trend continues, reports Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

At present there are no Italian regions or autonomous provinces in the highest-risk 'red' or medium-risk 'orange' zones, where more restrictive rules apply.

If the improving covid-19 trend is confirmed, the following regions could become white zones from 14 June: Emilia Romagna, Lazio (Rome), Lombardia (Milan), Piemonte, Puglia and the province of Trento.

So what are Italy's 'white zone' rules?

The only restrictions that apply in white zones relate to social distancing and the wearing of masks indoors and in crowded outdoor places.

White zones are exempt from the nightly curfew (23.00-05.00) currently in place in the rest of Italy. (In yellow zones the curfew will be pushed back to midnight from 7 June before being scrapped entirely on 21 June.)

In white zones people can dine indoors at restaurants. In bars a limited number can drink at the counter, maintaining an interpersonal distance of one metre. Gyms and indoor swimming pools can reopen.

One of the more unusual white zone rules relates to discos which are permitted to open but without any dancing.

Italy's national health institute (ISS) announced on Friday that the national 'R' reproduction number has fallen to 0.72 from 0.78 last week, according to the latest covid-19 data.

The incidence rate in Italy has dropped to 47 coronavirus cases for every 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 66 last week.

The improving situation has led to speculation that white zone rules could apply to all of Italy by 21 June.

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

Image: Riomaggiore, Liguria. Photo credit: Kirk Fisher / Shutterstock.com.