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“What Does Italy’s State Of Emergency Mean And Why Is It Being Extended?

Posted by on August 1, 2020 0


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With Italy set to extend its existing state of emergency until October 15th, here’s why that may not mean the current rules and restrictions will stay in place.
The Italian government is hoping to extend the current state of emergency, which expires on July 31st, until mid-October, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told the Senate before the vote on Tuesday.
The extension was approved by the Senate on Tuesday night. The lower house, where the government enjoys a bigger backing, will vote on the measure on Wednesday. It is expected to be approved without a problem.
What does the state of emergency mean for people in Italy?
The most important thing to know is that the state of emergency itself does not determine the emergency rules and restrictions. It’s not the same thing as an emergency decree.
While it sounds dramatic, the declaration of a state of emergency has a specific purpose.
It gives greater powers to both the national government and to regional authorities, and it was declared in order to allow the Prime Minister to introduce, change, and revoke rules quickly, via emergency decrees, in response to the ever-changing epidemiological situation.
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The state of emergency effectively cuts through bureaucracy, as the introduction of these new rules and laws would otherwise require the usual lengthy parliamentary process.
It also allows regional authorities to bring in their own local rules aimed at containing the spread of the virus.
Under the state of emergency, Conte’s government has issued a series of emergency decrees, usually referred to in Italy as DPCM (Decreto del presidente del consiglio, or Prime Minister’s decree) since the outbreak of Covid-19 began.
The decrees were at first used to introduce strict lockdown rules, then to tighten them, before the rules were gradually relaxed from May 4th onwards.
While the coronavirus infection rate in Italy at the moment remains stable and relatively low, the government says it wants to be able to act swiftly in case of any new outbreaks.
Extending the period until October will allow the government “to extend the necessary measures” and “to remain on guard in order to intervene promptly if there is a worsening of the situation,” Conte explained.
Under the state of emergency it is easier for officials to declare “red zones” in case of outbreaks.
It will also cut bureaucracy as schools prepare to reopen in September after being shut for six months.
Will the current rules in Italy change?
The extension of the state of emergency does not automatically mean that rules put in place under the current emergency decree will also be extended.
However the state of emergency was needed in order to bring in a new decree – which is due in the coming days, as the current decree is set to expire on July 31st.
The existing rules, which include travel restrictions and the current social distancing and mask-wearing requirements, will be reviewed by ministers as they draft the next emergency decree.
The government has remained tight-lipped on whether these rules may change, though any further relaxation of the rules seems unlikely.
The government is urging people to “remain cautious” and follow the rules amid fears of a potential second wave of contagion around Europe.
Ministers are expected to unveil the new decree – the decreto agosto, or August decree – by July 31st.

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