Italy to Extend State of Emergency to March 31 as Virus Cases Rise
(Bloomberg) -- Italy will extend its government’s emergency powers until March 31 as the country faces a new rise in Covid-19 cases ahead of the Christmas holiday season.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s cabinet will agree as soon as Tuesday to extend the special powers, which were due to expire at the end of the year, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named as the decision hasn’t been made public.
Under the state of emergency the government can streamline enactment of new legislation, give regions control over setting limits on movement and mandate scientific advisory committee oversight. Rome has used emergency powers since just after the start of the pandemic, and both of the two governments serving during the emergency have faced periodic opposition to over-centralizing control.
European Union countries and the U.K. have seen rising numbers of Covid cases in recent weeks as health officials express concerns over the spread of the omicron variant. The U.K. has warned that the new strain now accounts for 20% of confirmed cases in England, while the estimated number of daily infections is at about 200,000.
While Italy seen a steady rise in cases, its near-90% vaccination level has so far allowed the government to avoid the extreme measures adopted in other European nations, some of which have resorted to new lockdowns or vaccine mandates. New cases in Italy totaled 12,712 on Monday, with 98 fatalities.
The country will also start its vaccination campaign for children aged 5 to 12 starting Wednesday.
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