Italy’s premier: Schools to reopen after Easter

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ROME

Italy’s prime minister said Friday that schools, up to the first year of middle school, will reopen after the Easter break, also in high-risk red zones.

At a press conference following a key European summit, Mario Draghi said that the decision was taken earlier Friday by the COVID-19 task force in light of the latest data on infections.

Around eight out of 10 pupils in Italy are currently taking lessons online due to coronavirus restrictions, with both parents and students protesting across the country against prolonged closures.

Draghi had repeatedly said that reopening schools was among the government’s priorities, as soon as infection risks would allow it.

“School itself, up to middle school, is not a source of contagion,” Draghi said, adding that transportation and all the other issues related to schooling are the real source of concern.

As the country battles a third wave of infections, all regions will be declared “red zones” during the Easter holidays, with most of Italy under partial lockdown until the end of April.

Responding to questions on the delays in vaccine supplies that hit Italy’s vaccination campaign, Draghi stressed that Italy was the first country in Europe to raise the issue of imposing restrictions on the exports of COVID-19 vaccines outside the EU.

He added that EU leaders have now agreed to tighten up the rules on vaccine exports, modifying the previous criteria.

“Beforehand, the only condition for a ban on the exports of a certain vaccine was the failure to respect a contract by a producer,” Draghi said.

“Yesterday, the Commission extended the criteria introducing the words proportionality and reciprocity,” he added.

Draghi also announced that the government is studying a decree obliging all the operators working in the health sector to be vaccinated.

The need for a decree emerged after a few cases of health operators who refused to accept vaccination, which is not obligatory in the country yet.

Cases of clusters in hospitals and elderly residences were registered in connection with personnel refusing jabs.

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