On November 4, the Italian Government, as predicted and supported by the Italian scientific community, issued a new decree with tighter measures in order to combat a new wave of infections related to the Coronavirus.
The decree, which became effective on November 6 and will remain in force until December 6, depending on the course of the virus, sets up three separate areas, called “Regions,” identified with three different colors: yellow for low risk, orange for medium risk, and red for high risk.
The measures take into account the RT index, that is the transmission potential of the virus. This indicator leads to a “Red Region” tag when it is higher than 1.5. In addition, the decree provides 21 more parameters, each of which could measure the possible transition from one Region to another.
At this moment, Lombardy (RT 2.09), Piedmont (RT 2.16), Aosta Valley (1.89), and Calabria (RT 1.66) are considered “Red Regions,” Sicily (RT 1.42) and Apulia (RT 1.65), are listed as “Orange Regions” while the rest of Italy is in the “Yellow Region” category.
Areas in the Yellow Region are under a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and are responsible for self-reporting if they must leave their homes during that time. All shopping centers will remain closed on weekends, except for pharmacies, groceries, tobacco stores, and newsstands. Bars and restaurants must close at 6 p.m.
Buses, even private ones, will operate with 50 percent capacity. High schools will keep working remotely and all the public examinations are suspended.
Orange Regions operate under the Yellow Region rules, but bars and restaurants remain closed. Traveling between municipalities and Regions is not allowed, except in situations that involve health issues, job demands, or emergencies. Those who travel between Regions for these reasons must self-declare their movements.
Bars, restaurants, pubs, and pastry shops – except for catering services – are closed. Food delivery is allowed up until 11 p.m.
Red Regions, in addition to all the restrictions in the Yellow and Orange Regions, have tighter measures affecting when people may leave their homes because of their jobs, health, and other reasons. Self-declaration about such travel is required.
In the Red Regions, secondary schools, starting from the second year, and high schools will work remotely. All the sports centers are closed, but individual activities are allowed with social distancing rules.
All Regions, as well as local mayors, are allowed to implement more severe restrictions if they feel such measures are needed.
According to research from the internationally known “Istituto Mario Negri,” Bergamo, outside of Milan, was the city hit hardest by the virus in March, not only in Italy, but around the world. Now in the Red Region, Bergamo residents are growing weary of lockdowns which restrict their activities. Last week, there were protests in front of Mayor Giorgio Gori’s home, located in the upper part of the city, the historical center of “Città Alta”.
The lockdown has not affected many commercial activities, such as kids clothing and footwear stores, barber shops, beauty salons, bookstores, florists, laundries, stationeries, perfumeries, as well as those selling fish, underwear, sporting goods, and toys.
So, once more, bars and restaurants remain those hit with the the toughest restrictions.
In many ways, Bergamo is being penalized because of its proximity to Milan, where the pandemic is literally out of control. Also, because Bergamo is home to one of the most important hospitals in Italy, patients are routinely moved there to take advantage of better care, thus increasing the city’s virus totals. The Southern Regions don’t have the same level of healthcare that exists in North. In Calabria, for example, labeled as a Red Region, there has not been an increase in the number of beds in intensive care. As this second wave of the pandemic hits Regions in the South, there’s the risk that the situation will become dire, generating a collapse in healthcare all over Italy.
Understanding that possibility, the Italian Medical Association, reported by the newspaper, IlSole24ore, is calling for a general lockdown.
Photos of Porta San Giacomo, Bergamo, by Federica di Cintio