Italy orders bars and restaurants to close early amid covid-19 surge

Italy imposes its harshest new restrictions since the spring as the nation registers a record high number of new coronavirus cases.

Italy has imposed fresh restrictions including the closures of bars and restaurants at 18.00 to curb a second wave of covid-19, with a record 19,644 new coronavirus cases registered yesterday, 24 October.

The latest decree, whose contents were outlined today in a televised address by premier Giuseppe Conte, are effective from midnight tonight until Tuesday 24 November.

The new restrictions, agreed in collaboration with regional authorities, seek to further limit social contacts and gatherings of people, particularly at night.

However the decree does not impose a nationwide curfew or lockdown, with shops and most businesses to stay open.

Conte has repeatedly insisted that he wants to avert a blanket national lockdown, saying it would wreck the already fragile economy.

Bars, pubs and restaurants

From tomorrow, bars, pubs, restaurants, ice cream parlours and pastry shops must close every day at 18.00, with restaurants permitted to sell takeaway food until midnight.

Premises serving food and drink may open between 05.00 and 18.00. It is also forbidden to consume food and drinks in public places after 18.00.

There is a new "rule of four" for restaurants, with a maximum of four people per table, unless they are co-habiting.

Parties following religious or civil ceremonies, including weddings, will be banned.

Gyms, pools, bingo halls

The new anti-covid restrictions will close gyms, swimming pools, spas, wellness centres, casinos, betting shops and bingo halls. 

Cinemas and theatres

The decree shuts all cinemas, theatres and concert halls, however museums will remain open, under strict visiting rules.

Travel

The decree includes the "strongly recommendation" for people "not to move, by public or private transport, except for work, study, health reasons, for situations of necessity, to carry out activities or use services that have not been suspended."

There remains, therefore, free movement between Italy's regions.

Schools

Kindergartens, elementary and middle schools in Italy will remain open for face-to-face lessons however high school students are to receive "at least 75 per cent" of their lessons via remote teaching.

Smart-working will also be encouraged as much as possible.


Curfews in Italian regions

Overnight curfews have been ordered by local governors in the regions of Campania (Naples), Lazio (Rome) and Lombardia (Milan), with similar measures expected in other regions in the coming days.

On the night of 23 October, crowds of protestors in Naples clashed with police over the curfew and the prospect of lockdown as threatened by Campania governor Vincenzo De Luca.

This was followed last night by violent clashes in Rome, in protest over the city's midnight curfew.

In recent days Conte has called for people to remain alert and respect the rules aimed at preventing the spread of covid-19. "We cannot lower our guard," he said.

Photo credit: Sara Sette / Shutterstock.com.