Ash billowing out of Mount Etna crater

Covid and the Etna volcano marred the Sicilian weekend

Covid and the Etna volcano marred the Sicilian weekend

The region is the first in Italy to return back to ‘yellow’ status

As of today, 30 August, the compulsory wearing of masks outdoors and indoors is back in Sicily. However, island residents and tourists were already aware of that development when Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed the order on 27 July, making the weekend seem suddenly less fun.

And if that was not enough, Mount Etna decided to remind everyone of its existence spewing ash and fragments down on the Ionian seaboard of the island. That on the other hand spurred regional authorities to call for more attention and support from the EU regarding the regular threat that Sicilians have to live with.

No ‘Eureka’ moment for Syracuse of today

About a month ago, Italy introduced its internal Green Pass as a way to ensure that life in the summer season can continue in a fashion that would be as close to normal as possible. Without a doubt, it had an effect in curbing the latest wave that had started in July. Although it did not lead to a decrease in COVID infections, at least it managed to make the August result look like a plateau with between 6,000 and 7,000 daily new cases, on average.

The problem, on the other hand, was that the vaccination rated slowed down in parallel. Yesterday, the country reached the 70% mark of people with at least one dose, but it might not be enough.

Sicily might be the sign of things to come for the rest of the nation. Whether it was the holiday crowding there or the reluctance among some of the Sicilians to get the jab, the result is that the island is back in the ‘yellow’ zone. Italy has a four-colour code system to describe the sanitary situation on the regional level and the automatic restrictions that apply to it.

That means that the compulsory wearing of masks is back and so are the limits on group visits to restaurants and indoor events.

The regional government released some statistics on the vaccination rollout on the island, which showed that Ragusa was the best performer among the island cities, with 79.35% of its residents having received at least one dose. And if the ancient inventor Archimedes were alive today, he would be disappointed with his city, Syracuse, being almost at the bottom of that list with 65.96% of first doses.

Is human scepticism or Nature more destructive?

The President of Sicily, Nello Musumeci, was understandably deflated about the circumstances, commenting that the ‘yellow’ status should be like an ‘alarm bell’ to residents to get serious about vaccination.

He, however, had even more on his plate since Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, rained ash on the weekend over some municipalities.

We have said it over and over again: this is not a sporadic phenomenon, these "episodes" are increasingly frequent and cannot be managed as an occasional emergency. It is necessary that the National Civil Protection and the government of Rome make a further financial effort and intervene in Brussels so that the European Union finally recognizes this phenomenon as a national disaster and authorizes a Plan that allows us to give immediate and appropriate responses to mayors and citizens, still forced for seven months to face an emergency that has become routine,stated President Musumeci in a plea for stronger social and environmental protection.

The volcano has been erupting ash and lapilli regularly since February this year.



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