20 Italian Towns Put Into Lockdown as Effort to Control COVID Spread

Twenty towns in a sovereign northern province in Italy entered partial lockdowns Wednesday in an effort to curb growing COVID-19 infection rates ahead of the winter tourism season, the Associated Press reported. The restrictions took effect as the South Tyrol province, located in the Dolomite Mountains and bordering Austria, remains one of the least-vaccinated parts of Italy.

In the towns north of Bolzano subject to the COVID-19 restrictions, bars and restaurants must close after 6 p.m. and people must comply with a nighttime curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Residents are also mandated by the ordinance to wear FFP2 face masks while using public transportation, the AP reported.

South Tyrol is between five and 10 percent behind the national vaccination average in younger age groups. Arno Kompatscher, the province's governor, said that the partial lockdown was a preemptive measure enacted with the hopes of bypassing a complete lockdown.

The restrictions, which are set to last at least through December 7, are also aimed at safeguarding the ski industry amid the key winter tourism season after already losing two of those seasons to the pandemic, the AP reported.

The 20 towns subject to the lockdown all had infection and vaccination rates that met the provincial restriction criteria of recording more than 800 cases per 100,000 residents in a week, more than five new infections in a day and a vaccination rate of less than 70 percent in all residents over age 12, according to the AP.

Though Europe's COVID-19 outbreak exploded in Italy in February 2020, the country's population of people over 12 is now 84 percent fully vaccinated. Italy also imposed one of the strictest measures in the world by requiring residents to present a Green Pass, only valid when someone is vaccinated or tested negative recently for the virus, to enter workplaces and other public venues, the BBC reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

South Tyrol Province
Twenty towns in Italy's South Tyrol province entered partial lockdowns Wednesday in an effort to curb growing COVID-19 infection rates ahead of the winter tourism season. Above, chairlifts are illuminated during sunset near Bressanone in the northern Italian province of South Tyrol, Italy, on November 26, 2020. Matthias Schrader/AP Photo

Italy is seeing a rise in infections as in other Western European countries, but to a more measured degree, recording around 10,000 new cases and fewer than 100 deaths a day.

But the rise has nevertheless sparked proposals to impose restrictions on non-vaccinated people to prevent a lockdown that would impede an economic reboot after Italy's gross domestic product shrank 8.9 percent last year.

Proposals include revamping Italy's "Green Pass" by restricting access to museums, indoor dining and cinemas to only people who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19. Unvaccinated people can currently access such venues with a "Green Pass" from a negative test.

Italy COVID
Though Europe’s COVID-19 outbreak exploded in Italy in February 2020, the country’s population of people over 12 is now 84 percent fully vaccinated. Above, registration forms are filled out as people wait to receive their third dose of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on November 19, 2021, in Bari, Italy. Donato Fasano/Getty Images