A delivery man passes near St. Peter's Basilica as Italy tightens measures to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Rome, Italy.
Remo Casilli | Reuters
Italy announced a series of new restrictive measures to contain a second wave of coronavirus cases.
From Monday, the local mayors can close public areas such as squares and streets after 9 p.m. to curtail public gatherings, which was seen as one of the main reasons for a new surge in coronavirus infections.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the new restrictions on Sunday, saying bars and restaurants are allowed to stay open until midnight (but can close earlier if local guides deem it necessary) when there is table service but close at 6pm have to. unless. Social gatherings in bars and restaurants are limited to six people per table.
"We mustn't waste time," said Conte when he announced the new measures in a televised address. "The country cannot allow another lockdown that would seriously endanger the entire economy."
Other measures introduced include the promotion of distance learning for older students and staggered school entry times for other students. Contact sports at the amateur level are still banned and gyms and recreational facilities need to adapt to the new measures. Local festivals are also banned.
11,705 new infections were reported on Sunday, up from 10,925 on Saturday and 10,010 the day before, government data shows. Italy has recorded a total of 414,241 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
Conte said Sunday the strategy now being followed to curb the spread of infection "is and cannot be the same as that implemented last spring."
Then, at the start of the pandemic, Italy said Italy was not prepared with enough intensive care equipment and masks or was unable to run enough tests. Since then, it had procured equipment, made millions of masks and distributed among students, and performed up to 160,000 tests a day.
Italy was the epicenter of the first coronavirus outbreak in Europe in February. The first cases were observed in Lombardy before they spread to other regions in northern Italy and beyond to the rest of Europe.
Italy was the first part of Europe to put in place a local, then regional, and finally national lockdown in early March to stop the virus from spreading. This meant that all but grocers and pharmacies were closed and people could only leave their homes for essential reasons.
Italy's economy was hit hard by the lockdown earlier this year. The latest economic forecasts by the International Monetary Fund assume that the Italian economy will contract by 10.6% in 2020. Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco said in an interview with Bloomberg on Friday that it will take at least two years for the country's economy to return to before Covid levels.