The Italian government has passed a decree curbing socializing both at homes and in public spaces, limiting the operations of bars, and sports and school activities as coronavirus infections soar across the country.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s decree was passed on Monday evening and published in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The new restrictions are an attempt to tackle soaring Covid-19 cases as Italy is seeing its daily number of infections returning to April levels.
The restrictions, effective from Wednesday, will remain in place for 30 days. The new rules stipulate that bars and restaurants can be open until midnight for table service, but cannot serve people standing up, inside or outside the premises, after 9:00pm. Large gatherings outside of bars and restaurants have been linked to the recent surge in cases.
Conte’s measures also ban parties in night clubs and restaurants, as well as in the open air, while strongly recommending that Italians refrain from holding parties in their homes. The decree advises the wearing of face masks in the house when non-family members are present and introduces a maximum gathering of six people, similar to the regulations covering much of the UK.
Italians will also experience a clamp down on contact sports that are not organized by established clubs recognized by official bodies, such as five-a-side football games between friends.
Conte’s new measures come just a day after World Health Organization chief Tedros Ghebreyesus slammed politicians favoring the herd immunity approach for dealing with Covid-19, declaring it “immoral” and “unethical.”
Until recently, Italy had avoided a major resurgence, unlike their European counterparts in Spain and the Czech Republic. Commentators even suggested that the morbid memory of crammed hospitals and army trucks being used to transport bodies has kept Italians alert to the second wave.
Daily new coronavirus infections have doubled over the last week, reaching nearly 6,000 on Saturday. To date, Italy has registered a total of 359,569 cases and 36,205 deaths, one of Europe’s worst tolls, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
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