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25 Oct, 2020 14:10

‘We’ll do all we can to avoid 2nd lockdown’: Italy imposes new Covid-19 restrictions amid record-high daily case growth

‘We’ll do all we can to avoid 2nd lockdown’: Italy imposes new Covid-19 restrictions amid record-high daily case growth

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has authorized a curfew on restaurants and bars, along with other tougher measures aimed at curbing the rapidly growing coronavirus infection rate.

The fresh restrictions will take effect on Monday and last until November 24. Under the new rules, all dining establishments, including bars and restaurants, are allowed to operate from 5am to 6pm. A maximum of four people can sit at a table, unless they are not living together.

Cinemas, theaters, casinos, gyms, spa, beauty salons, and swimming pools will be shut down again. Shops can trade only if they can ensure one-meter social distancing rules on the premises.

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People are “strongly recommended” to avoid using public and private transport, with the exception of traveling to work or school, or to see a doctor. Schools are allowed to remain open as well, but with a reduced capacity.

“The government has set itself a clear objective: we want to keep the epidemic curve under control. Only then we will be able to manage the pandemic and not get overwhelmed,” Conte told reporters. “Contact tracing works well, but it will become difficult if we have 20,000 [new] cases per day.”

Italy recorded 19,644 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday – the highest daily increase in infections since the start of the pandemic.

“We must do everything possible to protect the health and the economy, and to avert a second general lockdown,” Conte said, promising that, if all goes well, new restrictions will be lifted by Christmas.

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Italy was the first country in the world to impose a strict nationwide lockdown when it was badly hit by the first wave of the coronavirus in early March. Its hospitals were quickly overwhelmed with a sudden influx of Covid-19 patients, especially in the northern Lombardy region.

The government eventually relaxed nearly all the restrictions, but was forced to bring some of them back earlier this month as the infection rate grew rapidly.

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