Customers have their last drink at a closing bar at Campo de' Fiori square in Rome. Photo: AFP
The Italian government announced the new decree on Sunday, which tightened a previous requirement for these businesses to close at 9pm if they were unable to offer table service.
Bars and restaurants had already been closed from 6pm in several regions, including Lazio, Campania, and Lombardy, where local officials had in recent days imposed evening curfews in a bid to prevent crowds and to stop the infection being spread while people are out socialising.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the national measures were aimed at protecting public health and averting the need for another national lockdown, which he stressed Italy “can no longer afford”.
Conte told Italy he hoped the unpopular new restrictions, which deal a severe blow to sectors already on their knees after a national lockdown this
spring, “will allow us to be more relaxed by Christmas”, though he warned “hugging and partying” would still be out of the question.
While eateries must close to the public from 6pm, takeaway service is stll allowed as long as customers do not eat at or outside the premises.
Food delivery is still allowed.
The government has also urged people to avoid unnecessary travel outside their home town or comune, and to avoid public transport wherever possible.
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The new closures have raised concerns about the survival of businesses and damage to the economy.
“This is going to destroy us,” Augusto D'Alfonsi, who owns the Torricella family-run fish restaurant in Rome, told AFP as the restrictions were announced on Sunday. “We've already lost 50 percent of our customers this year. Without government aid, we're done for.”
Regional leaders had warned that closing businesses would exacerbate social tensions as the country struggles to emerge from its worst post-war recession,
sparked by the two-month shutdown earlier this year.
Giuseppe Spadafora, deputy president of business lobby Unimpresa, said the “anger could explode in the coming days and weeks.”
The government has promised financial aid for the businesses affected by the new restrictions, though critics say the emergency funding will be unfairly distributed.
“Compensation is ready for all those who will be penalized” by the new restrictions, Conte said on Sunday.
“New non-repayable contributions will include a tax credit for commercial rentals in October and November,” he said. “A redundancy fund is also confirmed, a new one-off monthly allowance for seasonal tourism and entetainment workers is offered, there is an additional monthly payment of emergency income, and measures to support agri-food businesses.”