Northern Italian Region Rebels Against Government and Reopens for Business

Valle d’Aosta
Valle d’Aosta

ROME — The northern Italian region of Valle d’Aosta has defied coronavirus restrictions imposed by the central government, declaring itself a “yellow zone” and reopening restaurants, bars, shops, and businesses.

In a November 3 decree, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte imposed national restrictions covering the entire territory as well as regional restrictions based on a three-tiered ranking system — yellow, orange, and red — depending on how great he believes the coronavirus risk to be in each.

The ranking of the regions is regularly updated and currently seven are considered “yellow” (lowest risk), nine are ranked “orange,” and the remaining five are “red” zones (locked down). Among the five red regions is Valle d’Aosta, which has rebelled against the system by declaring itself a yellow zone.

Valla d’Aosta’s regional president Erik Lavevaz has claimed regional autonomy over “the freedom of movement of its citizens, economic activities, and social relations” and has signed a law allowing the reopening of retail stores, bars, museums, religious services, restaurants, libraries, and other businesses. The regional council confirmed the mandate to wear a mask even outdoors as well as the national ban on gatherings.

The minister for regional autonomy Francesco Boccia immediately warned the Aosta Valley Council that the move will be challenged in what is being labelled an institutional clash between Italy’s central government and local authorities.

According to the central government, regions such as Valle d’Aosta do not have the right to mitigate the health provisions adopted by the government in Rome but they are permitted to make them stricter.

“The Italian government has shown little sensitivity in understanding the problems of the mountains,” said Erik Lavevaz, who has only been president of the region since October 21, 2020, during the meeting of the regional council that approved the law. “This law goes in the right direction, which is the one we have already begun: it gives order to the implementation phase of management of the emergency, immersing itself in our territorial reality.”

Minister Francesco Boccia said that the matter will be referred immediately to the Regional Administrative Tribunal (TAR) for a judgment.

“The statements of President Lavevaz of the Valle d’Aosta Region undermine and damage the loyal collaboration that has characterized the hard and tiring common effort against the pandemic these past months,” Mr. Boccia said.

“Everyone knows the importance of the serious crisis that the economic entities are enduring,” he added, “but evidently not everyone is aware of the very serious health emergency and the number of families that have to face very heavy grief every day.”

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