COVID-19 | Prime Ministerial Decree of March 22, 2020: Further restrictions to business activities, in addition to the initial provisions set in Law Decree dated February 23, 2020, n. 6

It has been published in the Official Gazette (OG General Series n.76 of 22-03-2020) the new decree of the President of the Council of Ministers (DPCM) which aims to tighten the restrictions introduced with previous legislative and regulatory interventions by providing for new measures, applicable to the whole national territory, regarding the containment and management of the epidemiological emergency caused by Coronavirus (the full text of the DPCM in Italian language may be found at the following link: ITALIAN "GAZZETTA UFFICIALE").

Before getting into the details of the new provisions, it is necessary to underline the fact that the method adopted by the Italian Government to introduce such kind of measures during the Covid-19 crisis is raising concerns.

In fact, there is debate about the opportunity and even the legitimacy of the use, or even abuse, of the instruments such as

  • DPCMs
  • “DM” (i.e. Ministerial Decree)
  • Ordinances issued by local authorities.

In fact, these are administrative instruments not endowed with legislative force which should be confined to the simple implementation of what is prescribed with legislative instruments, including those approved by the government, such as the Law decrees (DL), which by law can be issued only in extraordinary cases of necessity and urgency.

The DPCM is in fact an instrument of “second rank” that does not pass the scrutiny of Parliament or that of the Head of State. Furthermore, in the absence of provisions of primary sources such as the law, it could favor and feed different ways of reacting to the state of emergency, with the consequent possible misalignment between the different Italian regions. Finally, these instruments, as an individual act of the Prime Minister, pose the problem of how to achieve the necessary balance between health protection and democratic rights. Indeed, the scope of the text of the new DPCM leaves us with some doubts in this regard.

The most salient aspect of this new DPCM is the suspension of all “non-essential” production activities from March 23 until April 3. Exceptions are represented by all those activities that are considered as “strategic” or that are “relevant” for the management of the crisis.

Therefore the manufacturing activities in the food chain are left open, as well as all services that are considered as essential for citizens, such as pharmacies, banks, post offices, utilities, transport and logistics.

Of course, all the manufacturing activities that “feed” the aforementioned industries also remain fully operational. Thus, for example, the manufacture of plastic articles is allowed as it is functional for food and drug packaging, but also for the production of the safety devices (such as masks, gloves, valves, etc.). Also "continuous production cycle plant activities” such as those of the "aerospace and defense industry" are kept open.

The complete list of eligible activities is provided in Annex 1 to the mentioned DPCM (reference is made to their Italian activity code named “ATECO code”). For the full list of eligible activities by ATECO code (in Italian language) see the end of this Circular letter.

Please note that, in accordance to the DPCM, the production activities that should be suspended as not expressly included in the aforementioned list, may continue if organized in remote work or “agile work” mode.

Additionally, activities that are "functional to ensure the continuity of the supply chain of the activities referred to in Annex 1 to the DPCM, as well as the utilities and the essential services referred to in letter e) are always permitted." In this case, however, it is necessary to send to the Prefect of the province where the production activity is located a communication listing the name of the companies and the administrations relating to the permitted activities benefiting from the products or the services of the company that wants to stay open. Silence-consent will apply, therefore, in the absence of a Prefect's pronouncement, the activity may continue to be regularly exercised.

One final comment in relation to professionals activities: they are not subject to restrictions. This allows us to continuously support our Clients in their activity and in understanding new regulations introduced on a daily basis.


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