ITALY has imposed a strict “semi-lockdown” after Covid deaths tripled in a month and new cases hit 20,000 yesterday.
Over the next four weeks, restaurants and bars must close at 6pm and can only offer take-out food.
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Theaters, gyms and beauty salons will be banned from opening and high schools will have to offer 75 percent of online teaching.
Local authorities will also be given the authority to close down the town square after 9 p.m. if they feel the crowd is too large.
PM Giuseppe Conte said he wanted to avoid a complete shutdown and promised to accelerate government assistance to businesses affected by the pandemic.
Now he hopes that by introducing new measures, a “normal Christmas” will be possible.
Yesterday, Italy reported 128 deaths and 21,273 new cases.
The restrictions came after Protesters clashed with riot police in Rome in the early hours of yesterday.
The disturbing images show some 200 masked militants throwing flares and firecrackers at police amid the country’s worst post-war recession.
A scene of violence, which erupted after midnight, followed another anti-curfew protests in Naples on a Friday night in which hundreds of people set fire to trash cans and hurled projectiles at police.
Seven people were arrested and two officers were reportedly injured during riots in Rome.
Calls were issued on social media for Roma to follow Napoli’s example in challenging the curfew, which in Rome ran from midnight to 5am.
Protesters in the capital’s Piazza del Popolo central square waited up to a minute before midnight to set off fireworks in the colors of the Italian flag, don balaclavas and hurl flares at police.
Giuliano Castellino, leader of the Forza Nuova militant group, said: “We refuse to accept that the virus occurs about one minute before midnight and the next minute not.”
Italy was the first European country to be hit hardest by the virus and has now recorded more than 500,000 cases and more than 37,000 deaths, according to health ministry figures.
The latest protests there put an end to similar week-long demonstrations against government restrictions in parts of Europe, including Spain, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
The continent has seen a spike in new infections and taken a series of new containment measures, mostly trying to avoid a new national lockdown – from curfews to more restrictions on social gatherings.
After Germany recorded its 10,000th death from the coronavirus on Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “The order today is to reduce contact, (and) to meet as few people as possible.”
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Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Saturday he had become the latest public figure to test positive for the coronavirus as the EU nation faced record infection rates.
Duda, 48, said in a tweet that he had tested positive but “felt fine” and was still working.
Spain became the first European country earlier this week to officially record one million cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
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