On March 22 the government ordered the lockdown of productive activities. The long-postponed decision could no more be withheld as the measures previously taken (social distancing, lockdown of certain retail activities on certain days, school closures, etc.) had shown to be insufficient to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The Prime Minister Decree adopted on March 22 prohibits all industrial and commercial activities except for those listed in an attachment to the Decree.

Which are the allowed activities?

In a nutshell, those which are aimed at satisfying primary needs such food, chemicals, petrol oil, power, etc.

The permitted activities are identified via the ATECO code, a code attributed to each company when registering at the registry of the enterprises on the basis of the activity.

The Decree also allowed those industrial and commercial activities which are in the production chain of the activities listed in the attachment to the Decree.

While the possibility of the activities in the attachment is automatic, entrepreneurs in the production chain needs to notify in writing the Prefetto (i.e. the local representative of the Home Affairs Minister) that they have the prerequisites to continue operations by identifying the clients they supply (and which have an ATECO code listed in the attachment to the Decree, or which supply other companies having an ATECO code among those listed). Once notified the Prefetto, the entrepreneur is allowed to keep its activity open; the Prefetto may investigate the existence of the prerequisites, and subsequently may deny authorization should the prerequisites not exist. Carrying out a commercial or industrial activity without the needed prerequisites is punished with an administrative fine from Euro 400,00 up to Euro 3.000,00, and with the accessory administrative fine of the order to close the activity for at least 5 days and maximum 30 (Law-Decree March 25, 2020, no. 19).

The “permitted activities” (either owning an ATECO code among those permitted, or in the production chain of those having an ATECO code among those permitted) need to ensure the respect of the detailed measures listed in the protocol among government and unions dated March 14 (health and safety measures); if they do not, they need to stay close.

As a response to the complaints of trade/entrepreurs associations and unions, the Economic Development Ministry adopted a wider list of permitted activities on March 25, 2020, which replaced the original list attached to the Prime Minister Decree of March 22.