Italy to end state of emergency and begin easing COVID-19 restrictions

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Italian Premier Mario Draghi (L) and Health Minister Roberto Speranza speak to reporters at a press conference.
Italian Premier Mario Draghi (L) and Health Minister Roberto Speranza speak to reporters at a press conference.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia   -  

Italy has decided to ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions and will not extend the country's state of emergency.

Any unvaccinated citizens over the age of 50 will now be able to work if they have a negative COVID-19 test result.

However, healthcare and nursing home workers will still be required to be vaccinated through the end of 2022 regardless of age.

Masks will also still be required until 30 April for indoor venues like restaurants, gyms, pools, theatres and discos, as well as workplaces. Earlier this year, Italy lifted its requirement for mask-wearing outdoors.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza told reporters on Thursday that those who come into contact with those positive to COVID-19 will no longer have to quarantine.

But people testing positive for COVID-19 will still be required to isolate, he said after a Cabinet meeting.

Capacity limits in stadiums for sports events and concerts will also soon be lifted, Speranza said.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has warned the country that restrictions could return in the case of a new surge in COVID-19 infections.

“[Today] we took fundamental steps toward reopening” the country, Draghi said.

“But naturally we are observing with great attention how the epidemiological curve is going, and we're ready to adapt [the measures]."

After steadily dropping in recent weeks, the daily number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has started to rise in the last few days in Italy, as well as other neighbouring EU countries.

But the Italian government has decided not to renew a national state of emergency regarding the pandemic, after the current emergency decree expires on 31 March.

In the first months of the pandemic, Italy imposed one of the harshest nationwide lockdowns. Draghi thanked Italians for their “patience” as well as for their “altruism” in being vaccinated.

Nearly 90% of Italians aged 12 or older have completed the vaccine cycle, and one-third of children aged 5 to 12 have also been fully vaccinated. 

In addition, some 38 million of Italy's nearly 59 million residents have received their booster shots.