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HEALTH

Q&A: Italy’s new rules on going outside in lockdown phase two

As Italy began to slowly relax its quarantine restrictions on Monday, there was still plenty of confusion about what exactly had changed. Here's what we know.

Q&A: Italy's new rules on going outside in lockdown phase two
It's now possible to buy ice-cream from Italy's gelaterias again. Photo: AFP

As Italy moves into fase due, or “phase two” of its lockdown, there's a new set of rules now valid from May 4-17th.

The new measures, set out in a government decree signed on April 26th, offer a lot less freedom of movement than many had hoped for: travel remains strictly limited, group gatherings are off the cards, and you'll still have to justify your reasons for being outside.

PHASE TWO EXPLAINED: What changes in Italy from May 4th?

The details were unclear last week, and there was widespread confusion following the prime minister's initial announcement.

At The Local we received a large number of questions from readers about what would and wouldn't be allowed. Here we've attempted to answer the most common queries, based on the decree text itself, subsequent government statements, and a newly-updated official online FAQ (here in Italian).

Keep in mind however that some rules can vary from one region to another. Check your local comune's website if in doubt. Here's what we know so far:

Do I still need a form to leave the house?

Yes: the autocertificazione ('self-certification') form will remain a requirement until at least May 18th, when the rules are set to be revised.

“So long as you need a reason to go out, self-certification will be necessary,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in his televised address announcing the changes.

The government has released an updated version of the form that you'll need to carry from May 4th, reflecting changes to the list of accepted reasons for going outside. You can download a copy of the new form here.

The form is only availble in Italian and must be completed in Italian. Find our complete guide to the new form and how to fill it in here.

Photo: AFP

When am I allowed to go outside?

You're allowed to leave the house for all the same reasons as before – buying groceries and other essentials, doing a key job, visiting a doctor or pharmacy, walking the dog, exercising – plus one new one: visiting relatives.

“Travel to see relatives is considered necessary so long as the ban on gatherings is respected, interpersonal distance of at least a metre is maintained and respiratory protection [a mask or other face covering] is used,” the new decree states.

Who am I allowed to visit?

The rules allow us to visit 'congiunti', a confusing term which was later offically defined as meaning spouses, partners, parents, children, in-laws, siblings, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and cousins' children – but not friends.

You can only expect to see family members living in the same region as you, no further away. And big family gatherings are forbidden.

Meeting up with anyone except relatives will not be considered a valid reason to travel.

Do I need to wear a face mask?

Italian authorities have made the use of face masks mandatory on public transport and in stores as they gradually loosen lockdown measures.

Face masks should be worn on the street in cases when it is hard to maintain a safe distance from others, ISS public health institute director Silvio Brusaferro said.

But masks “must not give a false sense of security,” Brusaferro told reporters. “It is an additional element, but personal hygiene and distancing are more important.”

Italy and other countries are now debating whether people should wear masks outdoors at all times – even while not in a confined space.

The rules on face masks also vary by region. We have more details about when and where face masks should be worn here.

Can I go for a walk or exercise outside?

The limit on outdoor exercise has been dropped: so you're allowed to run or cycle (within your own region) as long as you stay at least a metre from anyone else. Team sports are still banned. 

The rules on going for a walk are less clear. According to the government's latest advice, leisurely walks are not allowed despite the loosening of restrictions
 
“You may leave your home only to go to work, for health reasons, out of necessity […], or to do sport or physical activity outdoors. Therefore, walks are allowed only if strictly necessary for a trip justified by one of the reasons just indicated,” states the government's official FAQ.
 
 
Can I travel to another region?

The current ban on travelling between regions of Italy will remain mostly unchanged, with one important difference: from May 4th, if you are currently staying outside your region of permanent residence you will be allowed to travel home, something that hasn't been permitted for several weeks.

Like now, you'll also be allowed to travel between regions for urgent work demands, health reasons or other emergencies.

READ ALSO:

Can I go to my second home?

The national government has not signed off on visiting second homes: the only property to which you're allowed to travel must be your main place of residence

Some Italian regions have different rules, however.

In Puglia,  for example, people are allowed to visit and maintain agricultural land and smallholdings.

In Veneto, from April 28th residents will be permitted to travel to a second home (or boat) within the region in order to carry out “maintenance and repair”. 

Can I travel within my region?

Not freely. So long as the authorities require a reason to be outside, you could potentially be stopped and asked to justify yourself, then told to return home or even fined.

READ ALSO: Why the coronavirus quarantine rules aren't always the same around Italy

But as more and more things reopen over the coming weeks, it seems likely that the restrictions will be loosened in practice, at least to allow people to visit shops and other businesses within their own town.

Each region of Italy has a certain amount of authority to make its own rules, so check the website of your regione or comune to find out the rules where you are. 

So where can I go?

The national government gave the OK for parks to reopen – although the final decision rests with each local mayor. Some cities, such as Bari, have opted to keep parks shut as a precaution against overcrowding.

If you're lucky enough to live by the beach, a lake or the mountains, you are free to visit – not in a group, maintaining social distancing and so long as local authorities haven't blocked the area off.


Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Construction, manufacturing, wholesale and real estate companies will also be allowed to reopen from May 4th, which means more people will be returning to work. 

Restaurants, cafes, bars, pasticcerie and gelaterie can allow customers to come and pick up takeaway from the same date.

Shops, libraries and museums will reopen on May 18th, giving us several new reasons to leave the house.

The government has tentatively said that restaurants, cafes, hairdressers and beauty salons could resume service from June 1st, though it is waiting to see how the first wave of reopening goes before it lays out the next stage of Phase Two.

TIMELINE: What will reopen first under Italy's lockdown phase two?

Member comments

  1. Will it be possible to go to a garden center which is not in my own community as long as it’s in the same region. I live in a small comune and the garden center here doesn’t offer much in the way of trees and other perennials.

  2. Rita, we have been told in our small comune that we can’t go elsewhere for food shopping, because we have a shop here which sells essentials. I think it all depends on the application in your own comune. I was hoping I’d be able to go to my usual supermarket from tomorrow, but it appears not.

  3. Thank you, SP, for your response. We’ve been allowed to go to the supermarket in the next commune which has been helpful. I’m still not sure about the garden center so I’ll be waiting until May 18.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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