Italy shuts discos and orders mask-wearing at night as Covid cases rise

Italy shuts discos and orders mask-wearing at night as Covid cases rise
People dance on the sand at beach club in Fregene near Rome on August 14th. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
Faced with an uptick in new contagions, being partially blamed on crowds of partygoers, Italy has ordered a three-week closure of all dance venues.
In a decree signed by Health Minister Roberto Speranza on Sunday evening, the government also said that the wearing of masks would be mandatory at night – defined as 6pm to 6am – in “all spaces open to the public”.
 
“Proceed with caution,” the minister tweeted.
 
 
The new measure, to take effect on Monday and last through September 7th, comes after wrangling between the government and regions over the nightlife sector, which employs nearly 50,000 people in 3,000 clubs across the country, according to the nightclub operators' union SILB.
 
The decision comes at the tail end of Italy's sacrosant “Ferragosto” weekend, a major holiday during which most Italians go to the beach – and many flock to beach clubs and open-air discos in the evenings.
 
Indoor establishments had already been barred from operating.
 
Over the weekend, Italian newspapers have splashed images of throngs of young holidaymakers partying in recent days, as health authorities have voiced increasing worries over the possible spread infections.
 
 
Some clubs had reportedly struggled to make customers comply with the rules – despite DJs urging people to wear their masks and to keep their distance on the dancefloor.
 
Some regions, like Calabria in the south, had already ordered all dance venues shut, while others such as Sardinia have kept them open.
 
The move came after Italian authorities reported 629 new infections on Saturday August 15th – the country's highest daily tally of new infections since May.
 
Italy, the first country to be hit by the coronavirus crisis in Europe, has officially recorded nearly 254,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 35,000 deaths since the country's first outbreak was detected in late February.

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