FACEMASKS REMAIN AND CRUISE SHIPS RETURN: WHAT’S IN ITALY’S NEW EMERGENCY DECREE? – FROM THE PLAGUE TO COVID-19: WINE WINDOWS MAKE A COMEBACK IN TUSCANY

Today I have a serious story and then a fun one from Italy in the coronavirus era….

FACEMASKS REMAIN AND CRUISE SHIPS RETURN: WHAT’S IN ITALY’S NEW EMERGENCY DECREE?

(thelocal.it – August 10, 2020) –   Italy’s new emergency decree sets out how the country will continue fighting the coronavirus in the months to come. Here are the most important measures you need to know about.

Approved by the cabinet on Friday night, the decreto agosto or ‘August decree’ contains both safety rules and stimulus measures designed to support businesses as Italy seeks to recover from its Covid-19 lockdown.

It is the latest in a series of government decrees – formally called a DPCM (Decreto del presidente del consiglio, or ‘prime minister’s decree’) – issued under Italy’s coronavirus state of emergency that introduced the sweeping restrictions of the past six months. The last such decree expired on July 31st.

The new decree comes into force on August 10th and applies until September 7th.

The rules on travel, face masks and social distancing are accompanied by a stimulus package worth €25 billion that extends Italy’s employee furlough scheme and allows taxpayers to defer payments, among other measures. Italy is seeking funds from the European Union to help cover the cost.

While the decree (available here) stretches to nearly 200 pages, these are the main measures to know about.

Face masks compulsory until at least September

As expected, the new decree keeps Italy’s rules on facemasks in place: everyone must wear them in enclosed public spaces such as shops, restaurants or public transport. The only exceptions are children under 6 or people with a disability that makes it impossible.

Those rules will apply until at least September 7th, when the government will decide whether to extend them again.

Travel restrictions remain in place

Unfortunately for most people outside Europe, Italy has not eased its travel restrictions in the latest decree and won’t do so until September at the very earliest.

That means that only essential travel to Italy – not tourism – is allowed from the United States, India, Russia and most other countries, while even essential travel is restricted from 16 countries on Italy’s ‘risk list’.

Nationals and residents of the EU, Schengen Zone or United Kingdom can continue to travel freely to Italy. Residents of ten non-EU countries currently on the EU’s ‘safe list’ can visit, but are obliged to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

For a full explanation of Italy’s travel rules, click here.

Cruise ships return

Italy will allow cruises to resume from August 15th, the new decree says.

But in line with Italy’s travel restrictions, they will only be allowed to sail to and from other countries in the EU – excluding Bulgaria and Romania. Ships must certify that none of their passengers have been to any non-EU or Schengen countries in the 14 days before docking in Italy, even briefly.

Cruise operators must also take safety precautions on board, including checking passengers’ health before embarkation, asking staff and passengers to wear face masks indoors and enforcing social distancing.

Social distancing on public transport

Trains and buses won’t be travelling full until at least September, after the government ordered operators to continue leaving seats empty to limit contact between passengers.

Some companies had been planning to relax social distancing requirements after the last decree expired at the end of July, but the Health Ministry insisted that passengers should continue to sit at least a metre apart and never face to face.

The government kept the requirement in place for trains, buses and metros in its new decree, despite opposition from some regional governors who have issued ordinances allowing local transport to run at 100 percent capacity.

To read more about the economic policies in this piece, click here: https://www.thelocal.it/20200810/italy-new-emergency-decree-august

FROM THE PLAGUE TO COVID-19: WINE WINDOWS MAKE A COMEBACK IN TUSCANY

(WantedinRome.com) – Italy has seen a revival of the ‘wine window’ tradition that dates back to the era of the ‘Black Death’ in the Middle Ages, thanks to the current covid-19 health restrictions.

More than 150 of these tiny 17th-century windows still exist throughout Tuscany, reports Italian newspaper La Stampa, however many have been sealed up or lost over the centuries.

In addition to the historic centre of Florence, the so-called buchette del vino can be found in 27 Tuscan towns.

Their origin goes back to the time of the plague, when they were introduced as part of anti-contagion measures, allowing merchants to sell wine and top up bottles without coming into contact with the customer. (nypost photo)

In the era of the coronavirus, the tradition has now turned full circle and the ‘germ-free’ wine windows are enjoying something of a Renaissance.

Their revival is being championed by the Wine Windows Association that, in addition to promoting the ancient tradition, has been busy affixing plaques under the pint-sized holes.

The Florence-based cultural association says that it is not just vino being handed out through the little windows these days, with the magical sight of hands offering customers gelato, coffee, spritz and even books.

For full details (in English) about the history of the buchette del vino, and where to find them, see the Wine Windows website.