"Phase 2.5": What happens from May 18th?

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May 17, 2020
Written by: Angelo Colella

In short, starting Monday, May 18th, people will be able to come out of their homes any time without carrying a self-declaration and exercise and play individual sports outdoors without assembly. They also no longer limited to visiting just their relatives, they can also visit any friends, go to cafes and restaurants and more. People will be able to do this while respecting the rule to wear a mask in public.

An agreement has been finally reached, following a videoconference between the Government, in the presence of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Minister of Health Roberto Speranza and Minister for Regional Affairs and Autonomies Francesco Boccia, and the Regional Governors on the matter of the differentiated openings: the latter have formally obtained a "green light" after having warned, for a considerable time, about a potential situation of normative chaos in case of further lack of actions from the Government.

From an an article published on rainews.it on May 11th we learn that the participants seem to be satisfied, even if some are more cautious that others, with the decision: Minister Boccia, for example, has made it clear that there is no guarantee that the infection curve will not rise again, especially now that many workplaces will re-open.

On the other hand, Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio, through his Twitter account, has thanked all the citizens for their efforts that have allowed and encouraged a new start for the Country's activities. Everybody, however, agrees on at least two main points: that the social life must resume with due prudence, and that the requests made by the Government must meet with the needs of the local authorities, whose autonomy in the management of the crisis on a smaller scale has been eventually recognized.

Church in Le Marche
Soon people will be able to come out anytime without carrying a self-declaration

From this perspective, the proposal for differentiated openings has been welcomed especially by the Southern Regions, which don't live off large businesses but rather rely on the provision of services, such as the tourism industry, which have to be secured before they take too much damage. Italy is indeed a country with many differences from place to place, so it is inconceivable that this next phase should be the same for everybody.

Following the agreement, a new Decree Law has been prepared and, as of now, approved by the Council of Ministers. The full text has been published by "La Stampa" on its website and it implies the end de-facto of the lockdown that has begun last March, allowing for unlimited freedom of movement inside one's own Region from May 18th. It is expected that starting June 3rd, people will be able travel from one Region to another, also from and to travel to other countries in Europe without undergoing a period of mandatory 14-day quarantine: this has been specifically thought to avoid a further crisis in the travel and tourism industries.

At this point is essential to wear gloves and surgical mask, especially on public transport, but children under the age of 6 and people with disabilities incompatible with the use of surgical masks are exempted.

According to an article published on corriere.it on May 17th, while there are no bans or prohibitions for any special categories, but older people or those with chronic diseases or multiple pathologies are strongly advised to go outside as little as possible and stay home unless absolutely necessary.

Many restrictions, of course, remain for those who are already undergoing a period of quarantine, and in any case the mayors can order the closing of public areas or other facilities where social distancing can't be ensured. What is new is that, this time, it is up to the Regions to decide for any possible restrictions or establish red zones. The Government must be constantly informed of the epidemiological development and, in case of new outbreaks, it can intervene directly: its role, at this really delicate juncture, is to monitor and supervise. Especially to fend off the accusations to have been using means in direct violation of constitutional rights and freedoms. It has been possible to take this decision precisely because every Region, with the exeption of Lombardy, have showed to have reached a point where a spreading of the contagion is very low.

Corona virus infection map Italy May 17, 2020
Corona virus infection map Italy May 17, 2020

For example, President of the Campania region Vincenzo De Luca has announced, during a live streaming on Facebook on May 15th, his intention to allow the re-opeining for restaurants not on Monday, May 18th, but only from Thursday, May 21st, in order to give the business owners some more time to adjust to the new conditions. He has further specified that commercial activities could stretch their operating hours at will, even from 7AM to 11PM and even on public holidays.

The "Corriere della Sera", in an article on May 12th, sums up, through the aid of an infographic, the 21 conditions for the regional openings on May 18th. They¡¯re divided into three sections that include various criteria that the Regions have to follow for an optimal management of this new phase, which is going to be inextricably linked with a continuous communication with the Government.

The first criterion is the monitoring capability of notified symptomatic and new cases, by reporting the municipalities of residence and also the numbers of socio-sanitarian residential facilities.

The next criterion is the diagnostic assessment and tracking capacity, that is the communication of the percentages of positive swabs along with the dates of onset of symptoms, of diagnosis and of isolation of positive cases. To monitor close contacts, it is important to communicate not only the number of confirmed cases per Region, but also the number and kind of contact tracing staff.

The last criterion involves the condition of the healthcare system: to communicate the numbers of any new cases of infection, along with those for the total beds especially of intensive care.

Roma Termini train departure bulletin board
Traveling outside one's region is still prohibited except for emergency, work, and other permitted reasons

So from Monday, May 18th, it will be possible, among other things, to go to bars, get a haircut, dine out, but only in conformity with strict and precise rules, and with the risk of incurring harsh sanctions that serve as powerful deterrent, such as shutting down the business for 30 days.

While it will also be possible to visit museums and archaeological sites and to go to libraries, what most people understandably want to know is the guidelines devised by the Scientific Committee for restaurants and catering activities but also for swimming and bathing, in anticipation of opening safely both private and public beaches for the oncoming summer.            

It has been decided that, in restaurants, there must be a clear list containing all the informations needed, made understandble also to customers of other nationalities. A customer's body temperature can be measured and denied access when it¡¯s higher than 37.5°.

Also it is mandatory to make sanitizing products available to customers and staff in several places, especially the entrance and the bathroom facilities, which have to be cleaned multiple times per day. Where there is no seatings, entry should be permitted only to a limited number of customers at a time, and outdoors spaces should be preferred.

The interpersonal distance between customers is to be reduced to 1 meter, and customers are required to wear their surgical masks when leaving the table; also, the reservation list must be kept for at least 14 days just in case there is need to trace back contacts and movements in the event of new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections.

Child drinking cappuccino at a cafe
A child enjoying a cappuccino at a cafe

The same rules, more or less, apply for hairdressers, beauty parlors, barbershops and beauty care centers in general:  they must provide clear informations about the preventive measures, receive customers only by appointment and take their body temperature before allowing them to enter and, they too, have to keep their reservation lists for at list 14 days.

Both staff and clients are required, when possible, to wear their surgical masks and, in the case of the staff, also gloves, lab coats and protective visor;  while the number of clients allowed inside at the same time depends upon the capacity of the spaces, the customers are to leave as soon as services or treatments have provided to them.

Given the specific nature of the services offered, the hands of both customers and staff must be cleaned frequently with specific sanitizing solutions and, in addition to this, magazines and periodicals are banned because their promiscuous use could easily turn them into a potential source of contagion.

According to this same reasoning, work surfaces, tools and other equipment must be thoroughly cleaned before attending to another customers, and frequent air circulation indoors is to be ensured.

As for hotels, the same rules apply: they too have to display the new norms in a way that has to be comprehensible, and to ensure interpersonal distancing of at least 1 m in communal areas and in elevators, exept when it is members of the same familiy or of the same traveling groups. In any case, guests must wear surgical masks, and they have to have access to sanitation systems.

For hygienic reasons, the various types of electonic payment are to be preferred and reception attendants are required to clean their work surfaces and all the equipment they've used at the end of their work shifts.

May 25th, instead, is the day gyms and public swimming pool are expected to re-open (in Milan, the day will be May 31st).   The new norms for gyms require the owners to keep track of the accesses, or allow then upon appointment only, and the customers to keep an interpersonal distance of at least 1 meter at all times, 2 meters where gym equipment is used; of course, it is absolutely forbidden to borrow someone else's water bottles, towels or bathrobes.               

A swimming pool with multiple lanes
Swimming pool will open soon, but cannot have a crowd like this

In public swimming pools, the owners are invited to arrange plans for planned activities, in order to avoid gatherings. Customers are invited to make their reservations in advance, which will be kept for 14 days, and to use personal bags to store their clothing and belongings.

It is needless to specify that the same rules that suggested by the common sense are still in effect: before entering the pool, it is required to take shower with the use of soap, and to wear swim caps; it is forbidden to spit, wiping noses and urinate while in the pool, and children must wear swimming diapers.

Communal areas such as changing rooms must be cleaned and sanitized as often as possible, and the same goes for sunbeds and beach umbrellas which have to undergo the same process whenever customers leave or, in any case, at the end of the day.

 Meanwhile, during a Facebook streaming hosted by the website casanapoli.net on May 17th, Minister for Sport Vincenzo Spadafora has stated he is hoping that the serie A football championship can resume on June 13th but it's not a final date and, most importantly, they are waiting for the FIGC ("Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio", the Italian Football Federation which is responsible for organizing the Italian football league) and the Lega Calcio (which namely doesn't exist anymore since 2010, but in this case the Minister has meant to group together the highest football divisions in Italy, the Lega Serie A and Lega Serie B) to agree on the devised protocol.  It appears highly unlikely that the stadiums can already re-open to let fans and supportes watch the matches in person, therefore more developments are expected.

Lastly, there predictions for theatres and movie theatres, which should re-open on June 15th, just before Summer begins: while it's still too early to draft detailed regulations, it's very likely that, because they are closed spaces, structural changes will be necessary to ensure social distancing between the seats; either way, there is no doubt that wearing surgical masks will be required, as well as admissions upon reservation. And maybe this will be the time for a new boom for drive-ins. 

 

Author Angelo Colella is a professional translator fluent in Italian, English and French, you can reach him here.

 

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