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HEALTH
Italian region of Abruzzo declared ‘red zone’ as coronavirus situation worsens
The central Italian region of Abruzzo has declared itself a red zone, with stricter measures coming into effect on Wednesday November 18th.
Published: 18 November 2020 10:43 CET
A factory worker arrives for a shift near Pescara, Abruzzo. Photo: AFP
Regional president Marco Marsilio signed the order on Tuesday evening, reportedly deciding not to wait until Friday for the latest report from the Higher Health Institute (ISS) as the situation in the region has worsened.
The stricter measures came into effect after midnight, on Wednesday.
Usually, changes to the tiered system are decided by the health ministry based on the weekly reports from the ISS.
READ ALSO: Where to find the latest Covid-19 information for your region of Italy
But this time health minister Roberto Speranza agreed that the region could sign an ordinance bringing in stricter rules before the health ministry's nationwide review, as the local health authority argued that previous orange level restrictions were not enough in light of the latest health data, Italian media reports.
Abruzzo recorded 729 new cases and 13 recent deaths in the previous 24 hours.
However the most significant figure is thought to be hospitalizations, of which there 26 more. The region reported 43.7% of its intensive care beds are occupied.
Under Italy's latest emergency decree, a national three-tier framework means some of the Covid-19 rules now differ based on where you are in Italy.
Regions are now divided into three categories: red, orange and yellow, under a new system based on how severe the coronavirus situation is locally.
People in the highest-risk zones are told to stay within their comune, or municipality, and are only allowed to leave for work, study, health or other essential reasons, as Italy brings in the strictest measures since its two-month spring lockdown was eased.
The tier system had already been updated twice at a national level since it was introduced on November 6th.
The further restrictions applicable to red zones include tighter travel restrictions and online learning for students above the second grade of middle school.
What are the red zone rules?
In addition to not being allowed to travel from one municipality to another, people in red zones are not allowed to move around within their own area unless for essential reasons, by either public or private transport.
 
READ ALSO: Where and when do travel restrictions apply under Italy's new rules?
 
If you need to leave your home for work, study, health or emergency reasons these must be justified using a self-certification form.
 
You can only enter or leave an orange or red zone for the same urgent reasons.
 
And, in addition to bars, cafes, restaurants, pastry shops and other catering businesses being closed to the public, as in orange zones, shops are to be closed except for those deemed essential, which include supermarkets and other food shops, tabacchi, bookshops and stationary shops.
 
Hairdressers and beauticians can also remain open.
 
How are the rules decided?
 
Italy's Health Ministry decides which region is in which zone based on the advice of its Technical Scientific Committee (CTS), effectively bypassing regional authorities – many of which have said they were against a local lockdown or other tough measures.
 
READ ALSO: How Italy decides which regions are Covid-19 red zones
 
The CTS takes 21 indicators into account including each region's Rt number (which shows the transmission rate) as well as factors like hospital bed capacity and whether local health authorities are able to successfully trace the source of outbreaks.
 
 For more information please see the Italian Health Ministry's website (in English).
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TRAVEL NEWS
Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased
The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights
Published: 11 May 2022 16:17 CEST
Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.
#EASA and #ECDC have taken the first steps to relax #COVID19 measures for air travelers. While the wearing of face masks will no longer be mandatory it is important to be respectful of others. The full protocol is available here:​https://t.co/Oetq26Xd0g​pic.twitter.com/eBAvQxIEzp
— EASA (@EASA) May 11, 2022
The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.
The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.
It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.
“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 
“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  
ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 
“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 
“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 
“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”
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