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New Rules in Italy Due to COVID: Holiday Decree

Image courtesy of leo2014 from Pixabay

With the curve of COVID cases soaring on the wave of Omicron, the Italy Government has signed a new decree. The Council of Ministers, after a long control room, has launched a package of new rules – renamed the Holiday Decree – to stem the contagion during the holidays.

Among the restrictions there is the obligation of outdoor masks everywhere, even in the white area, while on means of transport, in cinemas, and in stadiums, and FFP2 (Filtering Face Piece) masks become mandatory.

The duration of the green pass has been reduced from 9 to 6 months after vaccination, and holidays are banned. In the draft of the decree, which consists of 10 articles, there is no trace of the reduction to 4 months of the interval between the second dose of vaccine and the third.

“We are working on it,” explained Minister Roberto Speranza at a press conference.

Information from AIFA, the Italian government’s Medicines Agency, should arrive shortly. Speranza himself announced the closure of discos and dance halls until January 31 (the draft decree did not foresee this, but it is intended to be superseded by the words of the minister). He also slipped in the vaccination obligation in the public administration. Here are the measures envisaged and when they are triggered.

FFP2 masks – where they are mandatory

On buses, trains, and other public transport, as well as in cinemas, theaters, sports halls, stadiums, and for concerts (both indoors and outdoors). The decree also puts into force that FFP2 masks must be used “in the aforementioned places; other than the catering services carried out by any business, the consumption of food and drinks indoors is prohibited.”

Green pass will last only 6 months

The duration of the green pass is reduced from 9 to 6 months. This will start on February 1, 2022.

Closed discos

Discos and dance halls will remain closed until January 31, announced Minister Speranza.

Parties stopped

From the entry into force of the decree and until January 31, 2022, “parties, however denominated, similar events and concerts that involve gatherings in open spaces are prohibited,”

Gyms and museums

Also from December 30, the super green pass (vaccination or recovery) will be needed to enter museums and places of culture; swimming pools; gyms; team sports; wellness centers; spas; cultural, social and recreational centers; game rooms; bingo halls; and casinos. Article 7 of the decree provides for this. Children under the age of 12 and subjects exempted from the vaccination campaign are excluded from the obligation.

The enhanced certificate will also be used for indoor catering at the counter.

From December 30, for visitors to access residential, social welfare, social health, and hospice facilities, it will be necessary to have the third dose of vaccine made or two doses of vaccine and a rapid or molecular antigen swab.

Random tests in ports and airports

Sample swabs of antigenic or molecular tests of travelers will be carried out upon entry into Italy from abroad. In the event of positivity, the fiduciary isolation measure will be applied for 10 days where necessary at COVID hotels, subject to communication to the Prevention Department of the competent health authority for the area in order to guarantee health surveillance for as long as necessary. The mandatory swab rule remains in force for those arriving from abroad even if they are vaccinated.

School: army in the field for testing

No further restrictions for schools. The government’s strategy is limited to supporting regions and provinces in screening. To support the administration of the tests and the analysis and reporting operations, the executive mobilizes the Ministry of Defense, which will field the military laboratories.

Recall at 4 months

The decision to reduce the interval between the second and third dose has been postponed. The departure date of the new method of administering the reminder will be taken by Commissioner Figliuolo in agreement with the regions.

The new restriction originated the decision to cancel all events in Italy  and follow the same decision taken in Europe

“A canceled event is better than a canceled life.”

These are the words of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), who on TV warned against the potential risks of the Omicron variant, suggesting that events be canceled in the places most at risk.

More and more countries are rushing to review their end-of-year programs. Paris announced the cancellation of fireworks and New Year’s concerts on the Champs-Elysée. In Great Britain, while the government of Boris Johnson – despite the boom in infections (now 100,000 a day) – has decided not to resort to the lockdown before Christmas. The Labor Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced the cancellation of the celebrations planned in Trafalgar Square.

Scotland also applied stricter restrictions. Premier Nicola Sturgeon announced that for 3 weeks starting December 26, public events will be limited to 200 people indoors and 500 outdoors, meaning professional sports will be “effectively spectator-less,” and for the second year of Hogmanay, Edinburgh’s traditional New Year’s Eve will be cancelled.

In Germany, the new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced new restrictions, justifying them with a sharp, “It is not time for New Year’s parties,” The new rules, in force since December 28, therefore, provide that invitations for New Year’s Eve (and in general for dinners and meetings) must be limited to a maximum of 10 people – even for the vaccinated – and that stadiums, night clubs, and discos will have to go back to being empty.

New Year’s Eve is at risk also in New York, which could revise plans for traditional celebrations in Times Square. The event could thus be skipped or further resized due to the iconic countdown. However, new lockdowns in the country are excluded. The confirmation came directly from the President Joe Biden, who in order to deal with the pandemic emergency developed an all-out action on the vaccination front and the distribution of COVID tests, while trying to reassure the population: “Nothing to panic about; it’s not like in 2020” adding “those who are vaccinated and have done the booster must not upset their plans for the end-of-the-year holidays, while it is the unvaccinated who have to worry.”

In Spain, while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez meets by videoconference with the heads of the Spanish regions to discuss new measures for the country, Catalonia is preparing to become the first Spanish region to restore severe restrictions. Health authorities have asked the courts to authorize a range of measures including a new night curfew from 1 to 6 am, the 10-person limit to meetings, the closure of nightclubs, the limit in restaurants to 50% of indoor seating, and in shops, gyms, and theaters to 70% of capacity. If approved by the courts, the rules will come into force on Friday and will last 15 days, thus also impacting the end-of-year celebrations.




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About the author

Mario Masciullo - eTN Italy

Mario is a veteran in the travel industry.
His experience extends worldwide since 1960 when at the age of 21 he started exploring Japan, Hong Kong, and Thailand.
Mario has seen the World Tourism develop up to date and witnessed the
destruction of the root/testimony of the past of a good number of countries in favor of modernity/progress.
During the last 20 years Mario's travel experience has concentrated in South East Asia and of late included the Indian Sub Continent.

Part of Mario's work experience includes multi activities in the Civil Aviation
field concluded after organizing the kik off of for Malaysia Singapore Airlines in Italy as an Institutor and continued for 16 years in the role of Sales /Marketing Manager Italy for Singapore Airlines after the split of the two governments in October 1972.

Mario's official Journalist license is by the "National Order of Journalists Rome, Italy in 1977.

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