While bars and restaurants have to close completely under orange, they can open until 6 p.m. with yellow. In the orange-colored part of the country, it is also forbidden to leave your own city or district – this is where the difference to the highest alert level, the red, is most obvious. Going out is completely prohibited in the red zones, unless, as in the other zones, to go to work or “for health reasons”, i.e. to the pharmacy or the doctor. Anyone who sells food, medicine or tobacco does not have to close anywhere, any more than – unlike in Germany so far – the hairdressers.
Right-wing parties are calling for the rules to be relaxed
If the set of rules for the division of the zones is not uncomplicated, the criteria that are applied are a jungle in which only experts will find their way: 21 requirements are checked for the assignment of parts of the country to one of the three zones – unaffected white ones have not existed for a long time. This involves the Rt value, the number of detected Covid infections with and without symptoms, the number of intensive care patients and the development of the respective curves. Regional new hotspots of infection play a role and other, sometimes not mandatory criteria – such as the number of suspected Covid patients who end up in the emergency rooms.
A large part of the criteria relates to the public health system itself: For red-yellow-orange it is also important how many hospitals and intensive care beds an area has, and even whether their health authorities are able to track chains of infection. A part of the country can definitely end up in deep red, not because a particularly large number of people there carry the virus or have died, but because the public health system there is not very robust.
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All of this has been the case so far, and Italy’s new Prime Minister Mario Draghi only signed the extension of the color regime until March 27th on Monday, even slightly sharpened it. But with the entry into government of the right-wing parties Lega and Forza Italia, whose electorate base is mainly the manufacturing industry and the medium-sized and small businesses in the north, the pressure is increasing to relax the rules and, as Corriere della sera reported on the appearance of the new one Regional Minister Mariastella Gelmini in the cabinet, “to protect the economy and health at the same time”.
Gelmini is a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s “Forza Italia”. Her assisted party friend Renato Brunetta, the new minister for public administration, proposed that whole regions should no longer be marked in red, yellow or orange, but rather smaller zones should be taken – which is already possible, however. Health Minister Speranza has so far taken the hard line. Speranza belongs to the left small party “Liberi e Uguali” and has been in office since autumn 2019.
What connects environmental pollution and the virus
On Thursday, the Draghi cabinet wants to meet again for Covid deliberations – and, it can be read, the rules may change. Whether this will be in the interests of his new coalition partners is questionable if Draghi keeps the promises he made in his speech to parliament last week: “We not only want to leave good money, but also a healthy planet,” said he there and explained that the economy needs help to get over the pandemic: “But it would be a mistake to protect all branches of the economy indiscriminately. Some have to change, even radically.” Choosing the right ones, that is, those that have a promising future and do not harm the environment or health, will be “the difficult task of the government in the coming months”.
The majority of the working population there cannot work from home, but rather has to take the risky route to the factories, often using public transport. Bergamo, not far from Milan, was sadly famous worldwide last year as a place of four to five times excess mortality from Covid.
The city, wrote the environmental journalist Marina Forti in her book “Malaterra”, published three years ago, about 150 years of industrial poisoning in the country, is not only “one of the wealthiest cities in rich Lombardy”. It is “also one of the most contaminated industrial areas in Italy . ”
The environmental pollution is also considered to be the reason why many northern Italians already have lung damage, which contributed to the virus and made it particularly fatal. Draghi also spoke in front of parliament about the connection between environmental degradation and pandemic.