Italy to reopen museums but anti-virus curbs extended

By: AFP      Published: 07:24 PM, 13 Jan, 2021
Italy to reopen museums but anti-virus curbs extended

Italy's health minister announced Wednesday a partial reopening of museums, while most other coronavirus restrictions were due to be extended.

"It is the intention of the government to reopen museums, symbolic places of our country's culture," Roberto Speranza told lawmakers.

The measure would apply only to less-infected "yellow" regions, while "respecting all social distancing measures".

Italy, which has recorded nearly 80,000 deaths from the pandemic, has had colour-coded regional virus restrictions since November, when all the museums were shut.

Five regions are currently in the intermediate orange category, while 15 are classified as yellow. 

Regions change colour depending on virus trends. Speranza said 12 regions were now at "high risk", and liable for orange-level curbs. 

"This week we have seen a general worsening of the country's epidemiological situation," he said, adding: "The next months will be very difficult."

However, regions achieving "very low" virus levels will fall under a new "white" category with minimal restrictions, Speranza said.

The new rules are set to come into force on January 16, when temporary regulations imposed over the Christmas and New Year's holidays expire.

They include an extension of the national state of emergency first imposed on January 31, 2020 to April 30, Speranza said.

A state of emergency allows government agencies to bypass red tape, speeding up their response to natural disasters or health crises. 

Speranza also extended a ban on travel between regions, renewed advice against having more than two guests at home, and announced new curbs on evening takeaways from cafes, which have since late October been forced to end table service at six pm.