AThis Monday, the pandemic map of Italy, which has been in use since November, will be given an additional color: white is added to red, orange and yellow. So far, none of the country’s twenty regions and autonomous provinces had been able to earn a kind of virus-free clean slate. Sardinia has now made it: The island will be declared the country’s first “white zone” with effect from March 1st and can throw off significant restrictions in the fight against the pandemic. The prerequisite for this is, among other things, that a two-week incidence value of less than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over a continuous period of at least three weeks is determined.
Political correspondent for Italy, the Vatican, Albania and Malta based in Rome.
A “liberi tutti”, the lifting of all bans in one fell swoop, will not happen, warned regional president Christian Solinas on Sunday in Cagliari. You have to be careful and will therefore proceed step by step, said Solinas. Initially, restaurants will be allowed to serve guests until 11 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., coffee bars will stay open until 9 p.m. The next step is to take place on March 8th: fitness studios, swimming pools and dance schools will then be allowed to open. Solinas, who belongs to the right-wing national party Lega of the former interior minister Matteo Salvini, promised that “the return to the longed-for new normality” should take place soon afterwards.
It doesn’t just depend on the incidence value
The division of the regions and provinces of the country, but also of individual cities and municipalities according to the four-color pandemic warning scale, is based on 21 indicators that were set by the government’s scientific and technical advisory board at the beginning of November. With the increase in the number of indicators, which are divided into three areas, a more differentiated recording of the regional and local risk situations should be made possible: instead of imposing a national lockdown for the whole country again when the number of infections increases, as with the first wave of pandemics from March to May 2020, it should be possible to react locally with finer instruments.
Therefore, in addition to the number of cases and incidence values reported to Rome by the regions and provinces, the respective test and tracing capacities as well as the general equipment and specific occupancy of the medical facilities were used. For example, in the poor southern Italian region of Calabria, where there are very few intensive care beds, the pandemic traffic light would jump to orange or even red at lower incidence values than in rich Lombardy in the north, where the clinics are much better equipped and also have a higher incidence Number of new infections would cope.
The hoped-for increased accuracy in the calculation and assessment of regional and local pandemic events was bought at the price of transparency and clarity: in the end, the researchers gathered on the scientific and technical advisory board in Rome were able to understand why which region and province this or that warning color was allocated.
No vacation in Sardinia for the time being
Meanwhile, the Sardinians need not fear an onslaught of compatriots who thirst for relaxation in freedom. Because the national ban on traveling across regional borders will remain in place until at least March 27th. And for the time being, foreigners will only find their way to Sardinia in very small numbers. Nevertheless, the Sardinian Minister of Health Mario Nieddu announced again stricter controls at the ports and airports. In Cagliari, they are considering only allowing travelers with a negative corona test or a vaccination certificate to the island.
Last summer, the government in Rome overruled a decree issued by the regional government in Cagliari, according to which entry should only be possible with a negative corona test, due to a violation of the principle of equality. In the summer, the number of infections on the island rose significantly, and the many holidaymakers from the mainland also brought many viruses with them. With the second attempt to become a kind of New Zealand in the Mediterranean through strict controls and restrictions on entry, Sardinia could have better luck this spring and summer.