Italy Approves New Virus Relief Amid Growing Protests
(Bloomberg) -- Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government has approved a new relief package to help sectors hit hardest by the latest coronavirus restrictions amid growing protests in cities including Milan and Turin.
Conte’s cabinet signed off Tuesday on measures worth about 5 billion euros ($6 billion) to partially compensate businesses that suffer from the partial lockdown approved over the weekend. The new measures include tax relief and targeted aid for the hardest-hit sectors.
With new infections at record levels, the government has set limits on opening hours for bars and restaurants, and shut down entertainment and gambling venues as well as gyms and swimming pools.
Italians are also being urged to avoid travel and to not have guests in their homes. The measures, which will remain in effect until Nov. 24, come in addition to night-time curfews in major cities including Milan and Naples.
Conte is under pressure to ease restrictions after demonstrators took to the streets in about a dozen cities Monday evening. Former Premier Matteo Renzi, leader of a junior party in the ruling coalition, called on the premier to amend the decree governing the restrictions while opposition leader Matteo Salvini has said he’ll challenge the measures in court.
Hundreds of people across the country have demonstrated against the new curbs, and protests turned violent in Turin and Milan following similar episodes in Naples over the weekend.
In Milan, Italy’s financial capital, trams were vandalized and police used tear gas to disperse protesters. In Turin, home of carmaker Fiat Chrysler, some demonstrators smashed store windows.
The main goal “must now be to regain control of the epidemiological curve” to prevent a health system overload, Conte was cited as saying in daily Corriere della Sera. The new curbs will help maintain “the stability of the entire social and economic system,” the premier said.
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