On Tuesday night, the Italian government extended the nation’s emergency powers until 31st March, 2022. The state of emergency was due to expire at the end of this year.
As the country sees a rise in Covid-19 cases, the government extended the state of emergency for a further three months.
What does a state of emergency mean?
In this instance, the state of emergency grants special powers to national and regional authorities to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. It cuts through red tape and allows authorities to modify or revoke measure as needed.
One of the immediate changes was in travel rules.
Italy’s new travel rules
Italy released new travel rules. These require all EU arrivals to undergo a covid test before departure, including those who are vaccinated.
The new rules come into effect from 16 December, and last until until 31 January. They also require unvaccinated EU visitors to quarantine for five days on arrival. Unvaccinated, non-EU citizens must quarantine for 10 days.
Portugal adopted a similar measure on December 1st, requiring a mandatory negative test for all flights arriving in Portugal, even for people with health passes and regardless of their point of origin or nationality.
Leaders of the government’s coalition parties – Enrico Letta of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) and Giuseppe Conte of the populist Movimento 5 Stelle welcomed the move to extend Italy’s emergency legislation.
Matteo Salvini, the leader of the right-wing Lega party, had said he was “waiting for data” before declaring his view. A few days earlier he had been strongly opposed to the move.
Another far-right party leader, Giorgia Meloni of Fratelli d’Italia (FdI), who are in opposition was definitely against it. She said, “It is not an emergency.”
On Tuesday, Italy recorded over 20,000 new infections and 120 COVID deaths; the highest single-day death tally in the new surge.
Additional restrictions may come into effect in the region of Veneto next week. Those include outdoor mask requirements, as hospitals begin to restrict nonessential procedures.
Italy has only officially confirmed fewer than a dozen omicron cases, all stemming from business travelers returning from southern Africa.