COVID-19: Italy closes conemas, theatres, gyms others as cases increase

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Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte tightened nationwide coronavirus restrictions Sunday after the country recorded a record number of new cases, despite opposition from regional heads and street protests over curfews.

Cinemas, theatres, gyms and swimming pools must all close under the new rules, which come into force on Monday and run until November 24, while restaurants and bars will stop serving at 6pm, the prime minister’s office said.

Italy, the first European country to be hit hard by the pandemic and impose a nationwide lockdown, on Saturday clocked nearly 20,000 new cases in a 24-hour period.

“Semi-lockdown for a month,” said the Repubblica daily, noting Conte had done little to appease regional heads who had appealed for much softer measures to save ailing businesses devastated by the lockdown in spring.

Schools and nurseries will remain open, though up to 75 percent of classes for high-schools and universities will move online. People are urged to avoid public transport or moving beyond their own communities where possible.

The new measures were introduced just hours after dozens of far-right protesters in Rome clashed with riot police during a demonstration against the region’s curfew, setting off fireworks, burning bins and throwing projectiles.

Some 200 masked militants belonging to neo-fascist group Forza Nuova lead the skirmish in a second night of street protests, after hundreds of demonstrators clashed with officers in Naples further south over their curfew.

Several regions have imposed overnight curfews in a bid to slow rising Covid-19 infection numbers. Piedmont in the north and Sicily in the south will follow this week.

Independent

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