Italy announces sweeping new Covid-19 restrictions

Italy announces sweeping new Covid-19 restrictions
People walk in front of the Palazzo Chigi government offices in Rome. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
The Italian government announced on Monday a range of new rules aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19. Here's what you need to know about the latest decree, which includes restrictions on travel between regions.

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Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte has resisted growing pressure to impose a new economically-damaging national lockdown despite spiking virus cases, instead proposing a regional approach that would target the hardest-hit areas.

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New measures to come in this week are to include further business closures and restrictions on travel between regions deemed “at risk”, Conte said.

Reports had suggested Conte would push for a nationwide 9pm curfew during a speech in parliament, but he said such measures would need to be discussed further.
 
The government has resisted implementing the new lockdown which many in Italy were expecting, with new cases now over 30,000 a day – higher that the UK but still lower than France
 
Conte has faced severe pressure from all sides of the debate – health experts insisting a lockdown was needed, regional leaders saying they would resist
stricter measures, and business owners demanding better compensation for the closure of their businesses.
 

While the new decree has not yet been signed into law, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte outlined the latest planned restrictions in a speech to the lower house of the Italian parliament on Monday afternoon.

“In light of last Friday's report (from the Higher Health Institute) and of the particularly critical situation in some regions, we are forced to intervene to mitigate the contagion rate with a strategy that must correspond to the different situations of the regions.”

Conte said “targeted interventions according to the risks in the various regions” would include a “ban on travel to high-risk regions, national travel limit in the evening, more distance learning, and public transport with a capacity limited to 50 percent “.

Conte later clarified that there would be a new national three-tier framework setting out the rules for regions.

The country is to be divided into three bands, with differing “scientific and objective” criteria approved by the Higher Institute of Health, he said.

The worst-affected regions, which he named as Lombardy, Calabria and Piedmont, would face the toughest restrictions however it's not clear yet what exactly they will be.

He also announced the nationwide closure of shopping centres on weekends, a complete closure of museums, and moving all high schools and potentially middle schools to distance-learning.
 
The measures fell well short of what had been expected – and what has been introduced in France, the UK and Spain, for example.
 
Italy's latest set of coronavirus rules will come in under the fourth emergency decree announced since October 13th.
 
Find all The Local's latest coronavirus updates here.
 

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