ITALY has introduced tighter restrictions after it suffered its highest ever toll of Covid infections.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has introduced its own rule of six and imposed a 9pm curfew as a surge of coronavirus cases swept across mainland Europe.
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A maximum of six people will be allowed to sit together at restaurants and bars, and table service will be mandatory after 6pm, although they will be allowed to stay open until midnight.
Mayors have been given the power to shut squares at 9pm to halt gatherings, people will only be allowed in to go home.
Parties and festivals have also been suspended as have conferences and conventions.
Takeaways will have to close at midnight.
As well as ordering betting shops to be closed from 9pm and halting amateur sporting competitions and local fairs, he said the government would consider ordering gyms and swimming pools to be closed after further checks on security measures this week.
Rome clashed with regional governments over schools, refusing to budge on allowing more distance learning.
RULE OF SIX
But there are allowances for high schools to open later, and hold afternoon shifts, to ease pressure on local transport.
Italian authorities reportedly met on Saturday evening to discuss the situation and possible measures to stop the spread of the virus.
As daily cases in Italy hit a new record 11,705 on Sunday, Conte said the situation had become “critical” but his government has been determined to avoid a repeat of the lockdown imposed at the start of the crisis in March.
Conte said in a statement on Sunday: “We are aware of the economic damage generated by the measures we are taking.
“But the government is committed to restoring them.
“We will not fight the second wave with limited resources as in the first, we are now equipped.
“We produce 20million surgical masks that we distribute daily in schools and not just free of charge.
“We doubled the number of ICU jobs and hired medical staff. Billions invested in healthcare.”
Further measures had been expected to be introduced, according to reports, including the closing of cinemas as well as the banning of football matches, both professional and amateur.
It was also thought only emergency or essential travel would be allowed.
There is also expected to be a push to increase the number of people working from home.
Italy’s most populous region, Lombardy, is once again suffering particularly badly from the resurgence in Covid-19 with more than 2,000 reported cases a day.
HOSPITALS UNDER STRAIN
The intensive care units in the region’s hospitals are said to be coming under strain trying to deal with the amount of infections.
The northern region, where the coronavirus outbreak in Europe began in late February, has already introduced limited bar service and alcohol sales as well as bans on contact sports and closed bingo parlours.
Rules banning drinking in public spaces and takeout sales of alcohol have also been outlawed to stop crowds forming in squares.
The regional government has also called for high schools to bring in hybrid schedules with pupils alternating between online and classroom learning.
Italy’s other hardest-hit region Campania, in the south, has also introduced similar strict measures which also include shutting down schools for two weeks.
Following a protest by parents though the regional governor backed off on Friday and allowed daycare centres to stay open.
The Vatican also reported that someone who lives in the same hotel as Pope Frances had tested positive for the coronavirus.
RISE IN CASES ACROSS CONTINENT
Other European countries have been suffering a rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in recent days.
Germany’s disease control centre reported 7,830 cases overnight, a new record, on Saturday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the country to come together as they did in the spring to slow the spread of the disease.
She urged Germans to avoid unnecessary travel, cancel parties and remain at home whenever possible.
In her weekly video podcast she said: “Difficult months are ahead of us.
“How winter will be, how our Christmas will be, that will all be decided in these coming days and weeks, and it will be decided by our behaviour.”
Belgium has announced plans for a month-long nationwide curfew from midnight to 5am as well as the closure of all cafes and restaurants on Friday night.
A limit of one non-family “hug friend” per person has been imposed as well as Christmas markets cancelled and a ban on alcohol sales past 8pm.
A “partial lockdown” in The Netherlands was introduced on Wednesday after daily coronavirus cases hit a new record with more than 8,000 new cases were reported in 24 hours.
Bars and restaurants are closed and no alcohol can be served after 8pm.
In France nine cities, including Paris, authorities have forced restaurants, bars and cinemas to close no later than 9pm in an effort to reduce contact among people.
An extra 12,000 cops have been brought in to enforce the new rules.
Austria reported 1,747 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours on Saturday, a new record.
In the Czech Republic, the number of new infections passed 10,000 for the first time, rising to 11,105 on Friday, the Health Ministry said.
That was nearly 1,400 more than the previous record set the day before.
— to www.thesun.co.uk