Italy’s Lombardy and Campania regions order tougher anti-virus measures

The Italian region of Lombardy, the first European epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, became the latest to enforce stricter rules as the number of new cases rises locally.

Italy's Lombardy and Campania regions order tougher anti-virus measures
People wearing protective masks in Milan. Photo: AFP

All amateur sporting events have also been put on hold in the wealthy northern region where the first cases of Covid-19 in Europe emerged in February.

Under the new restrictions that will stay in effect until November 6th, bars will after 6pm only be able to serve customers seated at tables, and the sale of takeaway alcohol is also banned after that time.

READ ALSO: Eight charts that show the state of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy

Lombardy, the most populous region of Italy, has also prohibited the consumption of food and drink in all public outside areas under the new rules.

Lombardy, the hardest-hit area in Italy, is mostly targeting young people, with restrictions on sport, nightlife and education — it has now called for schools to alternate online and in-person lessons.

Italy's second-worst affected region of Campania in the south has also introduced new measures, including the controversial closure of schools as well as bans on parties and funeral processions.

The measures in both regions are stricter than those imposed nationwide by Italy's latest emergency decree on Monday.

READ ALSO: What does Italy's new 'rule of six' mean for you?

Italy's government on Saturday is reportedly considering further restrictions, on the advice of its panel of scientific experts.

Italy on Friday reported more than 10,000 new infections in 24 hours as the numbers of new cases, as well as deaths and hospitalisations, continue to .

The government last week also made the wearing of masks compulsory whenever outside the house, and extended the state of emergency until January 31st.




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How Italy’s government is trying to ban the sale of CBD oil

Products containing CBD will only be legally available on prescription in Italy from this week after the government classified it as a narcotic substance, despite a European court ruling.

How Italy’s government is trying to ban the sale of CBD oil

As of Wednesday, September 20th, oil containing cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound derived from cannabis plants, can only be sold in Italy in pharmacies by prescription.

The change came into force 30 days after the Italian government signed a decree which classified “CBD for oral administration” as a narcotic substance.

The Meloni administration’s move to block the sale of CBD oil, which had long been classified as a food supplement, was met with an angry reaction from representatives of the Italian CBD industry, which they said was being “sacrificed” to favour the pharmaceutical sector.

Italian cannabis industry association Canapa Sativa Italia (CSI) said the move was “not only devoid of scientific foundation, but will also have serious repercussions for Italy,” reported the industry news website Business of Cannabis.

“The sale will now require a rigorous system of registration as a drug with the health ministry, a procedure absolutely unsuitable for a substance without risks such as CBD,” the organisation said.

Opposition politicians described the latest move to block the sale of CBD as “ideological” and “grotesque, if not criminal”.

Many pointed out how it was contrary to a World Health Organisation recommendation not to classify CBD as a controlled substance, and the European Commission’s statement in 2020 that CBD was not considered a narcotic drug under European law.

This followed a 2020 European Court of Justice ruling that products like CBD oil shouldn’t be considered narcotics as, “according to the current state of scientific knowledge,” they “do not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health.”

Oils and other edible products containing CBD are legally available without prescription across most of the European Union, though laws vary by country.

The sale of pure CBD oil is legal across most of the EU, though many countries have restrictions on products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the hemp molecule with psychoactive effects. (Photo by FRED TANNEAU / AFP)

Elisabetta Biavati, president of the Medical Cannabis Patients Association and author of an open letter to Health Minister Orazio Schillaci, said people in Italy who use CBD to relieve pain, anxiety or insomnia will be penalised by the government’s stance.

“Doctors are generally very reluctant to fill out this prescription because, due to cultural training, they tend to view cannabidiol as a drug when, among other things, it has no narcotic effect in itself,” she told newspaper La Stampa.

Patients in Italy would be left with two options: paying for a private prescription, or turning to the black market, she said, unless they were able to buy the product from neighbouring countries.

“In France, Switzerland or Slovenia, CBD is considered a simple supplement, with protections for the end consumer, as could also be put in place in Italy,” she said.

Italian hemp federation Federcanapa pointed out that the government will not be able to prevent the “free circulation” of CBD products from other European countries, meaning the law would be a blow only to Italian producers.

The CSI said it was calling for a “revision of the decree” and a “working table based on scientific evidence” to address the issue.

The government’s move to block the production of CBD in Italy came after an Italian court in February overturned what it called an “absurdly restrictive” decree which aimed to classify hemp leaves and flowers as narcotics, amid a broader push by leading politicians to clamp down on ‘cannabis light’.