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Italy braced for tougher covid-19 restrictions

Italian government expected to tighten covid-19 restrictions at weekends and over Easter.

Italy is expected to introduce tighter covid-19 restrictions, based on the advice of the government's technical scientific committee (CTS), amid rising infections fuelled by virus variants.

The new measures proposed by the CTS experts include shutting all non-essential shops and businesses at weekends - similar to the restrictions imposed over the Christmas holidays - in a bid to reduce social contact between people, even in lower-risk yellow zones, and an extension of the inter-regional travel ban, currently in place until 27 March.

The possible new restrictions, which could see a nationwide clampdown over Easter and tougher measures in high-risk red zones, are set to be announced on 12 March and take effect from this weekend, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

The coalition government of Mario Draghi is reportedly divided on the tightening of restrictions, however, with further talks expected with regional leaders before the premier convenes his cabinet on Friday to decide how to proceed.

"Our scientists are asking us to take stricter measures and I believe that it is right" - said health minister Roberto Speranza - "We have weeks ahead of us that won't be easy but we also have the confidence of vaccines that are finally available."

Speranza's view was echoed by foreign minister Luigi Di Maio who said in recent days: “There is no alternative to stricter measures.”

The talks come days after Italy passed the grim milestones of 3 million covid-19 cases and 100,000 fatalities, one year after the country was placed under its first nationwide lockdown.

Earlier this week Draghi committed to accelerating the country's sluggish vaccination campaign, promising that "an exit path" is not far away.

For official information relating to the covid-19 situation in Italy see health ministry website. Photo Wanted in Rome.

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