‘A new surge is coming’: PM Conte warns Italy as ministers review coronavirus rules

'A new surge is coming': PM Conte warns Italy as ministers review coronavirus rules
Staff treat Covid-19 patients at the Intensive Care Unit at Rome's Tor Vergata Hospital. Photo: AFP
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned on Monday that Italy will suffer another “surge” in coronavirus cases, as the government discussed emergency measures from January 16th.

“After Great Britain, Ireland and Germany, a new surge (in coronavirus infections) is also coming to us,” Conte told reporters from Italian news channel Tg3 on the sidelines of a meeting to discuss new restrictions with regional heads on Monday.

“It will not be easy, we still have to make some sacrifices,” Conte said.

READ ALSO: Italy goes back under regional coronavirus tier system 

The warning came after the latest health data released on Friday showed the Rt number (reproduction rate) has risen above 1 for the first time in six weeks.

“Without the restrictive measures introduced over the Christmas holidays, we would have other numbers,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Monday, according to the Ansa news agency.

Regional leaders met with government ministers to discuss upcoming changes to the emergency measures under the next emergency decree, due to be announced by January 15th.

Parliament is set to debate the new measures on Tuesday, and the decree text will be ready by “Thursday or Friday,” Speranza reportedly said, adding: “The epidemiological situation is not to be underestimated. The epidemic is still very strong, and for this reason we still need restrictions and correct behaviour.”

The governor of Liguria, Giovanni Toti, said after the talks that the government plans to introduce a ban on the sale of take-away food and drinks after 6pm.

Under existing rules, bars and restaurants even in the lower-risk ‘yellow’ zones must close at 6pm. Takeaway is then allowed until 10pm, though current rules state that customers must not eat at the premises.

MAP: Which zone is your region in under Italy's coronavirus tier system?

Other measures being considered include a ban on non-essential travel between all regions, and the addition of a ‘white zone’ to Italy’s tiered system of restrictions, Toti said.

“A white zone, which we proposed over a month ago, is a zone where, virus permitting, a slow return to normality can begin,” he said, after protesting about the  impact he says new restrictions would have on businesses.

Minister of Regional Affairs Francesco Boccia reportedly told the meeting that all businesses affected by continued closures “will be compensated.”

For more information on the coronavirus restrictions please see the Italian Health Ministry's website (in English).

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