Italy coronavirus outbreak: What’s happening there now

Healthcare workers transfer a COVID-19 patient in a biocontainment stretcher at the Covid emergency room of San Filippo Neri Hospital during the lockdown measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, on October 29, 2020 in Rome, Italy.

Antonio Masiello | Getty Images

Italy became Europe’s first coronavirus hotspot earlier this year, after cases started to emerge in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto in February.

It imposed the first lockdown outside of China, after the virus spread throughout the country and across the continent.

Summer saw a lull in infections in Italy, as elsewhere, before a second wave of coronavirus infections took hold.

Now, daily numbers of infections remain high, and last week it reported a record-high number of daily deaths. Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on in Italy at the moment.

What’s the virus situation?

What about the holidays?

The government has maintained the current curfew, with people not allowed out of their homes between 10pm and 5am (and extended to 7am on New Year’s Day), except for work or health reasons. That rules out midnight mass for millions of Catholics in Italy.

Italian tourists travelling abroad from Dec. 21 to Jan. 6 must undergo a mandatory quarantine upon their return, the ministry stated. Foreign tourists arriving in Italy during the same period will also have to quarantine.

Red zones

As in other countries, Italy has employed a tiered system to differentiate parts of the country by their risk profile, with different rules applied in these areas.

The highest-risk areas are classed as “red zones” and have the strictest restrictions. These are followed by medium-to-high-risk “orange zones” with elevated restrictions, and moderate-risk yellow zones where baseline restrictions are in place.

Currently, the yellow area includes the regions of: Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Liguria, Marche, Molise, Trento, Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily, Umbria and Veneto.

The orange areas include: Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Lombardy, Piemonte, Bolzano, Tuscany and Valle d’Aosta.

The only red zone at the moment is the central region of Abruzzo. In a red area, only shops selling essential goods can remain open, and restaurants and bars can only offer takeaway service.

Residents in red zones are not allowed to move around within their own area (whether by public or private transport) unless it’s for essential reasons. Anyone needing to leave home for work, study, health or emergency reasons have to fill out a form. In a red zone, visiting or meeting any relatives or friends you don’t live with, in any place open or closed, is banned.

Lockdowns and continued restrictions are clearly affecting some Italians more than others; a story has gone viral of an Italian man who, after having an argument with his wife, went out for a walk to cool off and ended up walking for 450km (280 miles). Italians nicknamed the man, who was fined 400 euros by police for breaching the curfew rules, “Forrest Gump” after the film character who runs thousands of miles across America.

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