Italy imposes new restrictions in fight against coronavirus

Italy imposes new restrictions in fight against coronavirus
People spill beer on the ground during a protest against the government’s new restrictions (Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse/AP)

At least a month of new restrictions have been imposed across Italy to fight rising coronavirus infections.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has insisted people wear masks outdoors, cinemas, gyms, pools have been closed and an early curfew has been set for bars, cafes and restaurants.

The decree Mr Conte signed on Sunday exempts children younger than six and those exercising outdoors from wearing masks and also made ski slopes off-limits to all but competitive skiers.

It goes into effect on Monday and lasts until November 24.

(PA Graphics)

A day earlier, Italy passed the half-million mark in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases since February, when it became the first country to be stricken in Europe.

Daily new caseloads have crept close to 20,000 in the last two days.

Restaurant and bar owners had lobbied hard against the new measures, which order them to close at 6pm daily.

Most restaurants in Italy usually do not even start to serve dinner before 8pm so the restriction seriously cuts into revenues.

Cafes and restaurants were allowed to reopen in recent months after the spring lockdown for outdoor dining or limited indoor seating.

Flares explode as police clash with activists during a protest called by Forza Nuova far-right group against restrictions in Rome (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/AP)

Several Italian regions and cities recently slapped on overnight curfews to cut down on young people congregating outdoors, especially to drink.

On Friday, demonstrators in Naples protesting a 11pm to 5am curfew clashed with police.

On Saturday night, far-right and neo-fascist political groups led a similar protest in Rome against its curfew.

Mr Conte’s latest decree keeps elementary and middle schools open but says 75% of high school students must have remote classes.

Crowding on public transport, especially since schools reopened last month, has concerned health authorities.

Masks were already required on public transport and in indoor venues like supermarkets and other stores.

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