COVID-19: ROME’S FIRST FINE FOR NOT WEARING MASK HANDED OUT AT TREVI FOUNTAIN – ITALY EXTENDS STATE OF EMERGENCY OVER THE COVID-19 CRISIS UNTIL 15 OCTOBER 2020 – ITALY BEGINS HUMAN TRIALS OF COVID-19 VACCINE IN ROME

It was a quiet day in the Vatican. Not even a press office bulletin was published but that is not necessarily surprising in August, the main vacation month of the year in Italy. A fair number, perhaps I can even say a high number, of Vatican employees are away this month and things in the Vatican, in Rome and in Italy in general are expected to be back to normal by early, probably mid-September.

Today, the offerings are meager and basically concern the state of things in Italy vis-a-vis Covid-19, restrictions, travels, new laws, etc.

COVID-19: ROME’S FIRST FINE FOR NOT WEARING MASK HANDED OUT AT TREVI FOUNTAIN

Police enforce rules obliging people to wear masks in crowded places.
(wantedinrome.com) Rome police have fined a man €400 for refusing to wear a mask among the crowd at the Trevi Fountain on Friday night, after he made fun of the officers by saying “covid-19 doesn’t exist,” reports Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

The 29-year-old Italian, whose friends also mocked the situation before eventually putting on their masks to avoid the penalty, became the first person in Rome to be fined under the new regulations obliging people to wear masks in crowded areas at night.

Masks must now be worn in public areas where social distancing is not possible between 6 pm and 6 am, while the order closing discos also applies to outdoor dancing venues such as beaches.

The move is part of a coordinated operation by police to monitor the capital’s smaller squares and streets where social distancing is difficult to maintain, in addition to the usual nightlife hotspots of Ponte Milvio, Trastevere, S. Lorenzo, Campo de’ Fiori, Pigneto and Piazza Bologna.

The news comes as Italy registered 1,071 new covid-19 cases on 22 August, the highest number since 12 May when the country was still in lockdown, with 215 new cases in the central Lazio region which includes Rome, according to data released by the Italian health ministry.

ITALY EXTENDS STATE OF EMERGENCY OVER THE COVID-19 CRISIS UNTIL 15 OCTOBER 2020

(wantedinrome.com) The Italian government has extended the country’s existing state of emergency, which expands the government’s powers in tackling the coronavirus health crisis, until 15 October.

The extension of the current state of emergency – introduced six months ago and set to expire on 31 July – was approved on 29 July, despite objections from the opposition which accused Italian premier Giuseppe Conte of trying to keep too much power despite a dramatic fall in the rate of contagion.

Describing the extension as “inevitable,” Conte told the senate: “The virus continues to evolve and has not run its course. It would be incongruous to abruptly suspend such an effective measure.”

However Conte also stressed that there was “no intention to dramatise the situation” or to fuel “an unjustified state of alarm.”

What exactly is the state of emergency?
The state of emergency grants special powers to national and regional authorities in tackling the fallout from the coronavirus crisis quickly, cutting through the usual bureaucratic procedures to implement, modify or revoke emergency measures if and when required.

It will also facilitate the continuation of smart-working, will allow for the ban on flights to and from countries considered at risk, and will speed up the process in getting schools ready to reopen in September, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

ITALY BEGINS HUMAN TRIALS OF COVID-19 VACCINE IN ROME

(wantedinrome.com) Rome doctors hope to produce ‘Made in Italy’ coronavirus vaccine by next spring.

Human trials of an Italian-developed covid-19 vaccine have begun on volunteers at Rome’s Spallanzani hospital on 24 August, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

The first person to volunteer for the vaccine, a 50-year-old woman, was inoculated at 08.30 this morning at the Spallanzani, a specialist centre for infectious diseases which has played a central role in battling Italy’s coronavirus crisis.

The woman said she was “excited and proud” to be the first volunteer to take the vaccine and hopes that it will help to “save lives,” ANSA reports.

After being observed by doctors for four hours, the woman will return home and be monitored for the next 12 weeks, said hospital director Francesco Vaia, who stated that if the trials go well a vaccine could be ready on a commercial basis by next spring.

Earlier this month, when the Spallanzani put out the call for 90 volunteers to come forward to take the vaccine, more than 3,000 people volunteered, in what Vaia said demonstrated the “great heart of the Italian people.”

The vaccine has been produced by Italian biotechnology firm ReiThera of Castel Romano, near Rome, with funding from the Lazio Region whose president Nicola Zingaretti said: “Today, an historic phase in research begins.”

The news comes the day after Italy registered 1,210 new coronavirus cases, up from 1,071 the day before.