Italy Keeps State of Emergency until Mid-Autumn
The emergency regime introduced in Italy in January this year in connection with the coronavirus pandemic has been extended until October 15. After a heated debate, the Italian Senate backed a proposal by the government of Giuseppe Conte to retain some of the restrictive measures known as « phase 3 », despite opposition protests accusing the government of creating an undemocratic « republic of the coronavirus. »
The proposal of the government of Giuseppe Conte to extend the state of emergency expiring on July 31 and keep it in a milder form of the so-called « phase 3 » was supported on Tuesday evening by 167 members of the Italian Senate with 125 against. “The epidemic is weakened, but not defeated. The virus remains among us,” Prime Minister Conte said addressing the members of the upper house of parliament.
Despite the fact that the epidemiological situation in Italy on Tuesday looked calm against the background of the shocks of previous months (212 new coronavirus infected and 12 deaths), Prime Minister Conte motivated the extension of the emergency regime by the need to « maintain the operational sequence of sanitary and organizational measures. »
As the Italian newspaper Repubblica explained, the preservation of the emergency situation leaves the government the opportunity, if necessary, to block transport links with countries with an unfavorable epidemiological situation and prohibit their citizens from entering Italy.
Judging by the measures taken by Rome at the height of the tourist season, the sanitary services are still seriously concerned about the threat of the import of the virus into the Apennines from other countries.
In addition, the emergency state allows, if necessary, to use hotels and other premises for the rapid deployment of quarantine facilities there.
Another argument in favor of maintaining the emergency regime was the preparation for the new academic year, which requires promptly purchasing the necessary protective equipment and new desks for schools, taking into account the requirements of social distancing.
In addition, the emergency mode allows enterprises and institutions to continue to keep their employees « remote ».
It is noteworthy that during the period of the emergency there are regional elections scheduled for September 20-21 in five regions.
In connection with the forthcoming vote, the government undertakes to comply with all measures of democratic and free expression of will.
However, the government’s arguments did not convince its opponents. All three opposition parties – Matteo Salvini’s Lega Nord, Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy and Silvio Berlusconi’s Go Italy – voted against the extension of the state of emergency as the measure, in their opinion, is contrary to democracy.
Matteo Salvini even called President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, and expressed his concern to him, stating that, under the pretext of fighting the coronavirus infection, Prime Minister Conte was establishing an undemocratic form of government. “How can you declare an emergency situation about something that doesn’t exist,” the League leader was indignant, explaining to reporters that the coronavirus danger in Italy no longer exists. Mr. Salvini demonstratively refuses to wear a medical mask in parliament, as prescribed by the regulations.