Three Italian regions put back under near-lockdown

By: AFP      Published: 10:42 PM, 15 Jan, 2021
Three Italian regions put back under near-lockdown

Parts of Italy will return to near-lockdown from next week, the government said on Friday, as coronavirus infections continue to rise.

The northern region of Lombardy, comprising Milan, the island of Sicily and the autonomous province of South Tyrol will become "red zones" with only supermarkets, pharmacies and other stores selling basic necessities left open. 

However, restaurants will be able to provide take-away and delivery food, while schools remain open except for teenagers.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the worsening infection rates in Italy "cannot be underestimated" in a country that has already suffered almost 81,000 dead since the pandemic began early last year.

Under the three-tiered system based on the level of risk, nine of Italy's 20 regions including Lazio, which includes Rome, move up from "yellow" to "orange" zones, to make a total of 12 in that category.

In orange areas, restaurants and bars are closed except for take-away and delivery, but shops are open, although malls are shut on public holidays.

A nighttime curfew remains in effect throughout the country from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am and gyms, pools and theatres remain closed. 

The whole of Italy was put into a red zone over the Christmas and New Year's holidays, with a few days excepted, following concerns that family gatherings would lead to a fresh spike in cases.

A separate decree in effect until February 15 prohibits movement between regions.