US military bases prepare for new rules as Italy decrees nighttime curfew

Shoppers do business at an open-air market in the town of Sacile, Italy, which is located about 9 miles from Aviano Air Base. Markets will be ordered to close for about a month beginning Nov. 5, 2020, following an Italian decree signed Tuesday that imposes restrictions in regions with high coronavirus risks.


By NORMAN LLAMAS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 4, 2020

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AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — U.S. military bases are considering new coronavirus rules following an Italian decree that sets an overnight national curfew starting Thursday and imposes new restrictions in high-risk regions.

U.S. installations said they were waiting for a translation of the decree, signed by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte around midnight Wednesday, which mandates a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

The government will focus on restrictions in regions with the highest transmission rates, Conte said in a speech to the Italian parliament’s lower house Monday.

The targeted rules include a “ban on travel to high-risk regions, national travel limit in the evening, more distance learning and public transport with a capacity limited to 50%,” news website TheLocal.it reported Wednesday.

Nonessential shops and markets will also be closed in high-risk areas, The Associated Press reported.

The country’s museums and art galleries will be closed, and shopping centers will be closed on weekends, TheLocal.it reported after publishing a copy of the decree.

Italy announced late Wednesday night that Lombardy, Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta in the north, and Calabria, at the southern toe of the Italian peninsula, would each go into “red zone” lockdown.

With few exceptions aimed at safety and essential functions, no one will be able to leave or enter those regions, AP reported. People there must stay home except for essential shopping and for work, although telecommuting has been encouraged where possible.

Lombardy, which includes Milan, has had more than 200,000 coronavirus cases as of Sunday, far more than any region. Campania, which includes Naples and the U.S. 6th Fleet, also has seen a surge in cases.

After reviewing the decree, the Navy “may close or reduce certain services in order to align with host-nation decrees while maintaining our overall military mission and operational effectiveness,” Lt. Cmdr. Edward Early, a spokesman for Navy Region Europe, said in an email.

The military’s rules generally follow those of their host country but differ in a few ways; for example, base school classrooms have remained open to all students even though Italy shifted most of its high school students to online learning. The new decree switches secondary schools completely to distance learning, along with some middle schools in high-risk zones.

Students on base don’t rely on public transportation as much as Italian students, U.S. Army Garrison Italy in Vicenza said last week while explaining the differing policy.

Aviano Air Base, in the country’s northeast, said that both the 31st Wing and school administrators intend to keep schools open. Base personnel will be notified of other safety measures through online meetings and the Aviano App for smartphones, the Air Force said.

“Leadership is reviewing facility hours and services across Aviano (Air Base) so as to mirror our Italian partners,” wing spokeswoman Julie Scott said in an email Wednesday.

USAG Italy will need “about 72 hours from the time the decree is released to publish the applicable impacts to the community,” the garrison said in an email statement Wednesday.

Stars and Stripes reporter Nancy Montgomery contributed to this report.

Twitter: @normanllamas