1. Travel and Living

Connections With 13 Countries Blocked Until End Of July

Italy is approaching a new set of restrictions to counter the coronavirus epidemic, starting from tomorrow, July 15. With a new decree, the Italian minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, is going to establish the new rules that are going to be valid until the end of the month. Parallel to this, the government is likely to extend the state of emergency in Italy until the end of October 2020, according to institutional sources. 

Specifically, the new restrictions are going to include the suspension of flights from and towards a list of 13 countries deemed problematic in the context of the contagion. The countries are Armenia, Bahrein, Bangladesh, Brasil, Bosnia-Erzegovina, Chile, Kuwait, North Macedonia, Moldova, Oman, Panama, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. Italian media report that the list is likely to be extended in the next days, to include also countries such as Mexico.

Moreover, the new decree extends the closure of clubs, fairs and congresses until July 31. Regarding nightlife, the summer period is regarded by the institutions with worry, being an opportunity for large gatherings. Last weekend, for example, a party with over 350 attendees was found and blocked by police in a villa at Argentario, a popular seaside destination along the coast of Tuscany. In Rome, the local administration has decided to temporarily close a number of squares known for attracting large numbers of youngsters in the evenings.

The new decree is going to be presented in Parliament by Speranza later today, so the final content is yet to be confirmed, although based on previous drafts it appears that the ban on luggage in overhead lockers on aircrafts is going to be dropped. Travelers are hence going to be allowed to bring trolleys on board, provided that items such as loose jackets and bags are placed in single-use containers, to avoid contact between them.

Finally, the decree extends the obligation to wear protective masks in closed spaces and the observation of safe distance of 1 meter, while work from home options continue to be encouraged. Moreover, employers have a duty to sanitize workplaces on a daily basis if their premises are open for work. 

While the numbers of the pandemic in Italy appear to be encouraging – the daily count in new cases remains stable at around 200 cases per day, with less than 20 deaths – the government appears to be cautious in managing the transition back to normality. Yet, the decision to prolong the state of emergency in the country has been criticized by a number of intellectuals and university professors forming the think tank Lettera 150. 

Specifically, the group has sent a letter to the country’s president, Sergio Mattarella, to express worry over potential “unjustified and serious breaches of the constitutional legitimacy”, due to the continuous adoption of governmental decrees to regulate openings and closures, rather than parliamentary debate. 

“Regardless of the pace of the pandemic, the so-called ‘emergency phase’ in a judicial sense has permanently ended, to leave space to an ordinary ‘serious alert’ situation. While urgent actions are needed, also through decrees, they have to be attributable to ordinary lawmaking management inside the Parliament”, they wrote.

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