Italy Prolongs Soft Lockdown To Prevent Holiday Virus Surge

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte extended a soft lockdown for just over a month, as his government seeks to prevent a flare up of the pandemic during holiday season.

A three-tier system tailoring restrictions to regional contagion levels will run through to Jan. 6. The premier wants to avoid a new wave mirroring the outbreak that followed a summer relaxation of the curbs, as well as avert a new strict nationwide lockdown that crippled the economy early this year.

“A new resurgence would be inevitable” if the government did not impose further curbs, Conte told reporters. The premier said he “strongly recommended” that Italians don’t invite people from other household into their homes over coming weeks.

Italy Prolongs Soft Lockdown To Prevent Holiday Virus Surge

Marathon talks over recent days saw coalition members split on how hard the restrictions should be, with regional chiefs seeking to ease curbs on movement and opening hours to aid business.

The pace of contagion has slowed over recent weeks, even as the death toll rose. Italy reported a record 993 daily virus deaths earlier Thursday, with the number of new cases at 23,225, down 20% from the same day last week.

Under the new rules, travel between regions will be banned from Dec. 21 to Jan. 6, except in rare cases. Movement between different towns will also be banned on Dec. 25, Dec. 26 and Jan. 1. Shopping malls will be closed at weekends.

A nationwide curfew remains in force from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., but will be extended until 7 a.m. on New Year’s Day, and high school students will start returning to school from Jan. 7, Conte said.

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