Firenze, the center city of Florence, Italy, weekend residents stroll the street in late February 2021, right before PM Draghi enforce stricter lockdown measures. Photo credit: Kaia Shivers

Italy shuts down to tackle their third wave of COVID-19

Italians hope to ride the wave faster, easier in another bout to decrease infection rates, COVID-19 deaths.

On Wednesday, Florence, Italy runs much like it has been since the pandemic shuttered the high-tourist city last March—on almost empty, save for a few shops, food markets, news stands and take-out eateries situated on main thoroughfares. Now, the slow pace of residents, which tended to increase on the weekends, comes to a snail’s trot with recent restrictive measures. 

Recently, Italy’s new head-of-state, Prime Minister Mario Draghi, passed a nationwide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., with no travel between regions until March 27. However, during Easter weekend, the first week of April, the whole country will be marked as “zona rossa” to prevent any travel at all.

While Florence, a provincial city in Tuscany, is in one of the few regions categorized as an orange zone, or at medium risk, most regions have landed in the red, or high risk areas. If marked a yellow zone, it means safer, but currently no regions are classified. The white zone, a more recent introduction into the system, indicates there is low risk. Currently, the island of Sardinia is listed.

| Read: Italy rolls back restrictions in the wake of a sharp uptick of COVID-19 cases

The color-coded classification system started under former PM Giuseppe Conte, who abruptly stepped down on January 26, 2021 after 16 months of leadership, and in the middle of the pandemic. Right now, Emilia Romagna and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia regions carry the highest infection rates, but there is a concern there might be an increase with the temporary stoppage of the vaccination roll out of AstraZeneca due to concerns of it causing blood clots. Germany, France and Spain also stopped using the vaccination as well with similar health concerns.

In response to the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccination program, PM Draghi introduced a new distribution plan with a goal of 56 million shots given by June. The plan aims for 80 percent of Italians to be inoculated by September. It seems as if the country’s previous plans to open up for summer tourism is a distant memory, but with the rapid changes in measures, it is hard to tell.

Kaia Shivers covers news, features and the diaspora.

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