Italy Announces ‘Phase Two’ Lockdown Update, Permitting Family Visits

italian village
Yaopey Yong via Unsplash

ROME — The Italian government has published the new regulations for “phase two” of the coronavirus lockdown, which include a gradual easing of some of the harshest rules.

One of the biggest changes of the new rules, which will go into effect on May 4, involves allowing citizens to leave their homes to visit family members who live in a different domicile, a practice that has been forbidden since March 9.

“We are working to ensure that citizens can go out on May 4, provided that the data will allow it,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza during a video conference announcing the changes. On Monday evening, Italy reported the first 24-hour drop in current cases of coronavirus since the outbreak of the disease.

The national policy will also allow for certain discretionary decision-making regarding dates and specific measures from region to region.

The new norms allow for taking walks alone or in pairs if proper distance is kept. The ban on gathering — both indoors and outdoors — will remain, purportedly “to protect young people in particular,” despite the fact that the young have been the least affected by the virus.

Government officials also stated that if the infection rate falls significantly in coming days, citizens will be permitted to travel from one municipality to another and also to other regions, a measure aimed at slowly reopening the country to tourism.

“The important thing is not creating a new emergency,” said Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri. “A municipality that has 1,000 inhabitants in winter will have to equip itself in order to limit the arrival of people and based on this ability we will modulate the measures.”

The Italian government has also addressed the issue of coffee bars and restaurants, noting that a first criterion will be the securing of the premises. Take-out food will be privileged at the outset, followed by a reopening of certain locales with the requirement that staff wear masks and gloves. Spacing between tables will have to be guaranteed and in some cases physical dividers will be installed between tables.

The new norms also contemplate the return to work of a substantial percentage of the labor force, with a series of specific health norms outlined in a detailed report by INAIL, Italy’s occupational safety and health administration, overseen by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies.

Regions that wish to begin phase 2 before May 4 must ensure the availability of COVID-19 hospitals and places to quarantine those who test positive. This is the condition placed by the government to reopen the automobile, construction, and fashion industries on April 27.


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