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Italy imposes early evening hours for restaurants and closures of gyms, swimming pools and cinemas, as the cases of COVID-19

The Italian leader imposed at least a month of new restrictions across the country on Sunday to fight increasing coronavirus infections, closing gyms, swimming pools and cinemas, introducing early evening hours in cafes and restaurants and forcing people to wear masks outdoors.

Worried about the crippling of Italy’s stagnant economy, especially after 10 weeks of heavy locks earlier in the pandemic, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte opted for another heavy blockade across the country. The new decree takes effect on Monday and lasts until November 24.

“Our goal is to protect health and the economy,”

; Conte said.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte corrected a face mask while speaking during a press conference as the coronavirus outbreak continued, at the Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy, on Sunday, October 25, 2020.

Yara Nardi / Reuters

A day earlier, Italy exceeded half a million confirmed cases of coronavirus since February, when it became the first country in Europe to be affected by the pandemic. On Sunday, Italy registered 21,273 confirmed new cases and 128 deaths from the previous day. Italy has reported a total of 37,338 virus deaths, the second highest number of pandemic casualties in Europe after Britain.

Restaurant and bar owners had lobbied hard against the new measures, ordering them to close at 6pm. Most restaurants in Italy usually don’t even start serving dinner before 8pm. Cafes and restaurants have the right to reopen in the open or limited dining. indoor seats. But many are struggling to pay their bills, and some have already failed after tourists were banned from the United States and many other countries.

Conte promised financial support from his center-left government back in November for the food sector, noting that cafes and restaurants could place orders for delivery and delivery until midnight. But no more than four dinners will be allowed before the curfew at the restaurant table, unless they are from the same family.

Under the new rules, ski slopes are banned for all but competitive skiers, and all spectators are banned from stadiums during professional sports matches, including football. Receptions after religious or civil ceremonies such as weddings are prohibited. The decree continues to exempt children under the age of six and those who exercise outdoors from wearing masks.

“We all have to make small sacrifices,” Conte said. “If we can’t go to the gym, we can play sports outdoors.”

Conte kept primary and secondary schools open, but said 75% of high school students should have distance learning classes. Public transport overcrowding, especially after schools opened last month, has worried health authorities.

By early summer, after Italy’s blockade was almost lifted, the load of new viruses had dropped to 200 a day.

“These are difficult days,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said after Conte explained the purpose of the latest restrictions. “The contagion curve is rising worldwide. And the wave is very high across Europe. We need to react immediately and decisively if we want to avoid volatile numbers.”

Several Italian regions and cities have recently struck a curfew to reduce the number of young people gathering outdoors, especially to drink. But Conte said that given the approaching cold weather, people prefer to socialize inside bars and restaurants, so he ordered them to close earlier.

A waiter stands in front of a café in the center of Rome on Sunday, October 25, 2020.

Cecilia FabianoLaPresse via AP

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