Italian premier tightens Covid-19 restrictions after cases surge

Italian premier Giuseppe Conte has announced new measures aimed at halting the spread of coronavirus as cases hit new daily highs, moving into vulnerable populations and putting fresh pressure on hospitals.

The restrictions announced on Sunday stop short of a curfew like those imposed in Paris and other major French cities.

But Italian mayors can close public squares and other gathering places after 9pm, permitting access only to reach homes or businesses.

Restaurants and bars are restricted to table service only after 6pm, three hours earlier than the previous measures allowed, but can maintain the current midnight closing time.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has announced new measures (Roberto Monaldo/LaPresse via AP)”>
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has announced new measures (Roberto Monaldo/LaPresse via AP)

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Local festivals have been banned. Gyms and public swimming pools may remain open but Mr Conte said they would be closed in a week if they do not do a better job of following restrictions.

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Rome clashed with regional governments over schools, refusing to budge on allowing more distance learning.

But there are allowances for high schools to open later, and hold afternoon shifts, to ease pressure on local transport.

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Authorities are loathe to see new lockdowns, after the 10-week closure that successfully impeded the virus’s spread, but at a cost of 47 billion euros a month to the economy.

New confirmed infections in Italy have doubled in a week to more than 10,000 a day amid increased testing.

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