Published: 12/03/2021 By The Abode TeamToday Italian government is set to announce tougher nationwide Covid restrictions to counter what experts warned was a third wave of coronavirus infections. Italy will be placed under what amounts to a nationwide lockdown over Easter, as the prime minister’s office confirmed that all of Italy would be under ‘red’ zone restrictions over the weekend of April 3-5. Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s cabinet said it had agreed new guidelines for restrictions across the country, which on Thursday recorded almost 26,000 new Covid-19 cases and 373 deaths. From Monday, every region with more than 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants (according to official weekly health data) would be moved automatically into the highest-risk red zone, a spokesman for Draghi’s office said. Health Minister Roberto Speranza also told a meeting on Friday that all regions currently classed as ‘yellow’ zones under Italy’s tiered system of restrictions would turn ‘orange’ from Monday March 15th, news agency Ansa reports.
Speranza reportedly added that low-contagion risk ‘white zones’ would be exempt from the Easter restrictions. This classification currently only applies to Sardinia. Ministers have this week been discussing the idea of enforcing nationwide red zones at weekends, or even a total lockdown for 3-4 weeks. The government is expected to formally announce the new restrictions later on today. Ministers said enhanced measures were needed after weeks of rising numbers in most parts of the country. The latest official health data on Friday showed that the critical Rt number (which shows the contagion rate) had risen again this week, from 1.06 to 1.16. Hospitals and intensive care units are now under pressure in most Italian regions, reported Italy’s evidence-based medicine foundation GIMBE on Thursday. “The trend of the contagion curve shows the start of the third wave,” GIMBE head Nino Cartabellotta told Rai News.
The government’s scientific advisory panel, the CTS, recommended a form of weekend lockdown which would mean shutting all non-essential shops and businesses – similar to the nationwide measures enforced over the Christmas and New Year holidays. The panel also suggested tougher measures in high-risk local red zones, much like those adopted a year ago in the northern town of Codogno, which was sealed off after becoming one of the nation’s first coronavirus hotspots. Experts also recommended extending the ban on travel between all regions, which is currently set to stay in place until at least March 27th.
Government ministers have not always followed the panel’s recommendations in previous reviews of coronavirus rules. However, health minister Roberto Speranza seemed to be in favour of adopting the suggestions this week. “Our scientists are asking us to take stricter measures and I believe that it is right,” Speranza told reporters on Thursday. “The weeks ahead won’t be easy, but we also have vaccines that are finally available.” Regardless of any new national measures, many parts of Italy are set to be under ‘red zone’ restrictions from Monday under the country’s tiered system. The health ministry is set to announce the latest changes to the zones this evening. The region of Lombardy, which includes Milan, and Calabria in the south are expected to be classified as higher-risk “red zones” from Monday, according to Italian media reports.current yellow zone regions including Liguria and Puglia are expected to move into the medium-risk orange zone, with bars and restaurants closed. However, the changes have not yet been confirmed. Draghi’s new government tightened restrictions for red zones earlier this month, to include not just the closure of bars, restaurants, shops and high schools but also primary and nursery schools. Residents are told to stay home where possible. A ban on non-essential travel between all regions is in force until at least March 27th.