International Women’s Day got off to an interesting start this year with the news that parts of Italy have gone into lockdown mode as a measure to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. A bit of a surprise perhaps – but it really should not be. We say this as already a few days ago some areas in Northern Italy were already flagged as ‘red zones’ and as we just pass the 2 week mark for cases in Italy (Day 1 is noted as February 21st) the measures being undertaken are not so dissimilar to those taken in China at the beginning of the outbreak there. If one remembers it was only on January 7th that officials identified the new virus and 16 days later, on January 23rd, Wuhan was placed on lockdown… eventually followed by a number of other metropolises. It is part of a process.
So what changed for businesses and employers in Italy over the weekend?
Below please find a brief summary of some of the main points from the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers (DCPM – Decreto del Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri) which will impact Business and Employers in Italy between March 8th and April 3rd, 2020:
Impacted areas as of March 8th, 2020: Region of Lombardy (where the City of Milan is located) and the Provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro, Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Vercelli, Padua, Treviso, and Venice.
- The movement of people into and out of the territories indicated above is to be prohibited except in cases where there is a need to move for work, health reasons, or to return to one’s residence.
- Employers, both public and private, are recommended to encourage employees to take ordinary leave and holidays during the period of effectiveness of the decree (March 8th – April 3rd).
- Ordinary leave of health and technical personnel, as well as of personnel whose activities are necessary to manage the activities required by crisis units set up at regional level, are suspended;
- All meetings should be carried out where possible by remote connection methods – in particular with reference to health and socio-sanitary structures, public utility services and coordination activities related to the COVID-19 emergency. Compliance with the interpersonal safety distance of one meter should be followed.
- For those with symptoms of respiratory infection and fever (greater than 37.5 ◦C) they are strongly advised to remain at home, contact their doctor, and limit their social contact with others.
- It is absolutely prohibited for anyone infected or under quarantine to leave their home or abode.
REDZONE COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES
- Bars and restaurants can operate from 6am to 6pm with the obligation on the management to provide conditions to guarantee respect of the security distance of 1 meter in between people. Failure to do this will result in sanctions and suspension of the activity.
- Commercial activities, other than those referred to above, are permitted to operate only if management can guarantee access to the place of business operation in a manner that is contingent, or in any case suitable, for avoiding gatherings of people, taking into account the size and characteristics of the premises open to the public , and such as to guarantee visitors the possibility of respecting the distance of at least one meter between visitors. In case of violation there will be a penalty of suspension of the activity. If an activity is unable to provide for these health and safety measures due to structural or organisational conditions then the activity must remain closed.
- On holiday and pre-holiday days medium and large sales structures must remain closed. This also includes shops within the shopping centers and markets. During weekdays the management of these types of activities must guarantee the conditions where people maintain the safety distance of 1 meter from the next person. Violations will result in penalties and the closing of the activity.
- Pharmacies, para-pharmacies, and points of sale of foodstuffs, which have the right to operate under regular working times (i.e. supermarkets can stay open until 8pm) will also have the obligation to ensure compliance with the interpersonal safety distance of one meter. There will be fines for violations and threat of closure in cases of non-compliance.
- Museums and other cultural institutes and places referred to in Article 101 of the Italian Code of Cultural Heritage and Landscape, pursuant to Legislative Decree 22 January 2004, no. 42 must remain closed.
- Gyms, sports centers, swimming pools, swimming centers, wellness centers, spas (except for the provision of services falling within the essential levels of assistance), cultural centers, social centers, recreation centers are suspended;
- All organized events are suspended, including events held in both public and private spaces, including those of a cultural, recreational, sporting, religious and trade nature. This also includes events held in closed places but open to the public, such as, for example, major events, cinemas, theaters, pubs, dance schools, game rooms, betting rooms and bingo halls, discos and other similar places. In these places all activities are suspended.
- All educational activities are suspended including universities and professional courses regardless of whether they are being carried out by public bodies or private institutions. The exceptions are in cases where instructions and training can be carried out remotely. Medical training courses for doctors and other health related professionals may also be considered an exceptional case. The managing bodies of educational facilities must ensure the cleanliness of the environment.
(Including the autonomous Italian Provinces of Trento and Bolzano)
- Anyone who has entered Italy from a coronavirus risk area (identified by the World Health Organisation) in the past 14 days must communicate this to their local health service in addition to their family doctor. If required they will be able to issue a certificate for the absence from work, with the start and end date of the quarantine, for their employer to present to INPS – The Italian National Social Security Institute (Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale).
- The agile working method governed by Articles 18 – 23 of Italian Law May 22, 2017, n. 81, can be applied, for the duration of the State of Emergency referred to in the resolution of the Council of Ministers on January 31st, 2020 (6 months) by employers to any employment relationship even in the absence of individual agreements. The disclosure obligations pursuant to Article 22 of Italian Law May 22 2017, no. 81, can be fulfilled electronically also by using the documentation made available on the website of INAIL – The Italian National Institute for Occupational Accident Insurance;
- Where possible, employers are recommended to encourage their employees to use of their ordinary leave or holidays;
NATIONAL LEVEL COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES
- In areas which are accessible to the public there is the advice to provide disinfectant solutions for hand hygiene for employees, as well as for users and visitors – as per Italian Ministerial Decree of February 25th, 2020.
- Meetings, gatherings, congresses, and social events are suspended where healthcare personnel or personnel in charge of carrying out essential public services or utilities are involved.
- Events and shows of any nature in both public and private spaces are forbidden. This also includes theatrical performances and cinema shows.
- Pubs, dance schools, game rooms, betting rooms, bingo halls, discos and other similar clubs are suspended. There will be sanctions and the suspension of the activity in violations are found.
- Museums and other institutes and places of culture Article 101 of the Italian Code of Cultural and Landscape assets, pursuant to Legislative Decree 22 January 2004, no. 42;) will remain closed.
- Restaurant and bar activities may remain open – however there is an obligation on the management to enforce the interpersonal safety distance of at least one meter. There will be sanctions and suspension of the activity in case of violation.
- For other types of commercial activities, both indoor and outdoor, it is strongly recommended that the management guarantees the adoption of organizational measures to allow access to the place of the business activity in a manner which respects the interpersonal safety distance of at least one meter between visitors
- Public transportation companies in Italy, including long-distance ones, should take extraordinary means to sanitise their vehicles.
- Educational trips, exchanges or twinning initiatives, guided tours and educational trips, however defined, which are scheduled by educational institutions of all levels are suspended;
- All educational activities, including universities, professional courses and also driving schools, shall be suspended until March 15th, 2020 – with the exception of those that can be carried out remotely. Post-university courses connected with the exercise of health professions are excluded from suspension, including those for doctors in specialist training, specific training courses in general medicine, the activities of trainees in the health professions. The Schools of the Italian Ministries of the Interior and Defense and that of Economy and Finance may also continue provided that the safety distance of 1 meter is guaranteed.
- The opening of places of worship is conditional on the adoption of organizational measures which avoid gatherings of people, taking into account the size and characteristics of the places, and such as to guarantee visitors the possibility of respecting the distance between them of at least one meter. Civil and religious ceremonies, such as marriages and funerals, are suspended.
NATIONWIDE | GENERAL HEALTH
- It is absolutely prohibited for those subjected to the quarantine measure or positive for the virus to move from one’s home or dwelling.
- It is recommended to limit, where possible, the movement of individuals to strictly necessary cases;
- Anyone with symptoms of respiratory infection and fever (greater than 37.5◦ C) is strongly recommended to stay at their home and contact their doctor from there in order to limit social contacts as much as possible
- It is highly recommended that the elderly people – as well as those suffering from chronic, two or more chronic conditions, or those with congenital or acquired immunosuppression conditions – avoid leaving their home or residence unless strictly necessary. If they must travel they should avoid crowded places in the which it is not possible to maintain the interpersonal safety distance of at least one meter.
Yes, it is quite a bit to digest in terms of both the micro and macro scale. The impact of not only how these measures (and those still yet to come) – but also the virus itself – will ultimately manifest itself on the Italian economy and business still needs to be revealed.
In one way Italy, in terms of the Europe, is pioneering the way forward on the management of this crisis on a local and national level. We can only hope that being the first EU country to confront the enormity of this epic challenge – that Italy may also be the first country to navigate its way out. As Niccolo Machiavelli once said, “Nature creates few men brave, industry and training makes many”. Looking at the Italy’s past, and in particular all of the continual twists and turns of its labour market, we are optimistic that Italy will evolve through this.