Italian sports venues to return to full capacity

Sports venues in Italy will return to full capacity from April 1, the Government has announced, with a special waiver being granted to enact this measure early for the national football team’s forthcoming FIFA World Cup play-off match against North Macedonia.

Italy is currently operating under measures limiting outdoor stadia to 75% capacity, but a relaxation of this stance was confirmed following a meeting of the Council of Ministers yesterday (Thursday) led by President Mario Draghi.

It was announced that the COVID-19 state of emergency will end on March 31, with sports facilities, both indoors and outdoors, able to return to 100% capacity on the following day. An obligation to wear face masks in indoor environments, and places where events open to the public are held, will be maintained through to April 30.

Until April 30, the basic Green Pass, requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test but not necessarily full vaccination, will be enough to access outdoor facilities, while the reinforced one will be needed for indoor venues.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) had lobbied for Italy’s World Cup play-off, at the Stadio Renzo Barbera (pictured) in Palermo on March 24, to be held at full capacity, and this request has now been granted before the 100% rules come into effect. If Italy defeats North Macedonia it will face either Portugal or Turkey for a place at Qatar 2022.

Stadia in Italy were cleared to open at 75% capacity last month after COVID-19 restrictions were eased in the country. The previous cap on fan attendance in Italy was 50% for outdoor venues. The limits for indoor attendance also rose last month from 35% to 60%.

Fans attending Serie A matches have still been required to hold a Super Green Pass, which provides proof of vaccination or recovery from a recent case of COVID-19. Masks have also remained a requirement while inside the stadium.

Earlier in February, the Italian Government announced it was working on a plan to return sports venues to full capacity for the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19. Unlike other nations, Italy has never returned its sports venues to full capacity since March 2020.

Stadiums were only able to welcome a maximum of 5,000 fans from January 15 to February 5 after clubs voted to introduce tougher measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. It was previously agreed that outdoor stadiums in Italy would be limited to 50% capacity, but those restrictions were made even tighter in light of the “exponential growth” in COVID-19 cases.

Image: Estevoaei/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size