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Italy brings in sweeping new coronavirus measures

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BBC


New measures to combat a surge in coronavirus cases have come into force in Italy with gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theatres closed.

Restaurants, bars and cafes must stop table service at 18:00 and offer only take-away until midnight. Contact sports are prohibited.

However, shops and most businesses will remain open.

The government has warned that the rise in cases was causing a huge strain on the country’s health services.

However, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that a full lockdown would be catastrophic for the economy.

Italy was among the first European countries to be badly hit by the virus but a national lockdown in March flattened the curve. Since then, the number of daily cases has climbed steadily and Sunday saw a new record of more than 21,200 infections.

The new restrictions, which are in force until 24 November, will also see 75% of classes at Italy’s high schools and universities conducted online instead of in a classroom.

Regional governments had asked for all classes to be conducted via distance learning, Italian media reported, but the move was opposed by Education Minister Lucia Azzolina.

The government is also urging people not to travel outside their home towns or cities unless absolutely necessary and to avoid using public transport if possible.

“We think that we will suffer a bit this month but by gritting our teeth with these restrictions, we’ll be able to breathe again in December,” Conte told a news conference on Sunday.

The latest restrictions have triggered demonstrations in cities including Naples, Turin and Rome.