Times they are a changing. Things are going well… really well! Italy started a gradual process of opening up about a month ago and, despite the usual mouthpieces preaching doom about how it was a mistake and we were all going to die, infections have continued to fall and the hospitals are emptying out. The incidence per 100,000 is now below 50 and cases are falling by about 30 per cent a day.
Italy is persisiting with its colour-coding system. It’s not a country that is particularly open to change. The main colours are White, Yellow, Orange and Red, though there are also darker and ‘reinforced’ versions of each. The reinforced has been brought in for white I guess, as you can’t have dark white. White is also not really a colour, but I guess that’s besides the point right now.
The whole of Italy is currently Yellow, which means restaurants and bars are open but you can only sit outside, you can move freely without needing to self-certify, and schools are open, as are all shops. We still have a curfew, because, as everybody knows, viruses like to move around a lot more at night. It’s been pushed back an hour though, to 11pm. And we still have to wear a mask outside when there are other people around.
On the whole, people are still following the rules pretty well. Masks are being worn, everybody is happy to sit outside (the good weather helps…) and there’s a lot less kissing and hugging than you would normally expect to see. The curfew seems to be pretty relaxed… presumably even the police know that if you’re driving home at 11.05 you are no more a danger than you were 5 minutes previously.
Generally, life feels pretty normal. And that, after what we have all been through over the past 15 months or so, is a really, really good thing.
In a couple of weeks, if infections continue to drop, most of the country should be turning white. This has led the politicians to scramble and quickly change the rules for white zones (which were previously essentially no rules at all), creating a ‘Bianca rafforzata’ , which has exactly the same rules as Yellow. That said, if the rumours are to be believed, the curfew will soon be pushed back to midnight and restaurants and bars will be able to seat people inside, but until something has actually happened, it’s best not to plan for it.
Waiting for Vaccines
Italy is also, finally, pushing ahead with vaccines. Until now, they have been vaccinating by age group and how friendly you are with your doctor or the person who takes vaccine bookings, but there are now all sorts of plans to vaccinate in work places, in discos and even in schools. We seem to have hit a ceiling of about 500,000 jabs a day. It’s not bad, but a few more would be nice. Bookings opened up for my age group last week and I rushed to get an appointment thinking I could be all done by the end of May. I heard back two days later, with an appointment in late July, so I think it’s fair to say that things could still go a little quicker.
There are plans afoot though to vaccinate people while they are on holiday. There are three certain things in life: death, taxes and Italians going on holiday in August. So, various regions are, rightly, concerned that people will miss their appointments as they will be busy sunning themselves on the beach. This has led to Piemonte and Liguria, for example, teaming up to offer vaccinations to travellers, but still according to age, eligibility and previous appointment date. It’s not quite the free-for-all it’s being touted as but, if it actually happens, it will at least mean that things don’t grind to a complete stop in the summer.
The big one… the borders are open, tourists are returning, Covid-free flights from the US are coming in and the European Green Pass (an EU-wide vaccine passport) is due to be launched in a couple of weeks. If you’re vaccinated you can basically do what you want, and if you’re not, you just need to get a test. Travel is back and, as far as I’m concerned (though I do have some skin in the game) not a moment too soon!
So, what happens next? Well, hopefully, infections here will continue to fall, we’ll all have a wonderful summer and then come autumn enough people will have been vaccinated that we don’t have to go through another wave. Of course, variants can mess all this up, but so far I’d say things are looking pretty good.
Which brings me to 2022… you need a holiday, we need the travellers and somebody has to drink all the wine… so get yourself over to Piemonte. We have a sexy new website and a bit of availability left for next year, so get your bookings in now before we realise that we really should increase our prices!