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Omicron: Italy clamps down on New Year celebrations

Italian government bans public New Year events amid covid surge.

New Year's Eve in Italy will be a muted affair, for the second year in a row, due to restrictions aimed at stemming a rapid rise in new covid-19 infections driven by the Omicron variant.

Italy has banned public New Year events and ordered the closure of night clubs from 30 December until 31 January 2022, under new restrictions announced by the government two days before Christmas.

However the latest anti-covid rules - which include the compulsory wearing of masks outdoors - are far less restrictive than New Year's Eve last year when all of Italy was in a 'red zone' lockdown.

This year, by contrast, there are no new travel restrictions and people are not prohibited from hosting New Year parties in their homes, with no limitations on the number of guests.

The government has however urged "maximum caution".

This year it is also possible to dine in restaurants on New Year's Eve, armed with the Super Green Pass which can only be obtained by those who have been vaccinated or recovered from covid.

However the recent spike of covid infections has led to a flurry of cancellations in restaurants and hotels, as people move the party from the piazza or club to private homes, according to Italian media reports.

In addition to the closure of discos, all public New Year's Eve celebrations are banned in Italy, from concerts to count-downs.

Italy's night club owners are seeking urgent economic compensation for a sector already crippled by covid-19, reports news agency ANSA, while the president of the northern Emilia Romagna region, Stefano Bonaccini, has expressed doubts about shutting clubs amid fears over "the proliferation of uncontrollable private parties."

For official information about the covid-19 situation in Italy see the health ministry website.

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