Italy PM resists pressure to impose national lockdown

Italy PM resists pressure to impose national lockdown




Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, wearing a protective facemask, gestures as he speaks during a press conference for the newly adopted measures to fight against the spread of th Covid-19, in the courtyard of the Chigi Palace, in Rome, on October 25, 2020, as teh country faces a second wave of infections to the Covid-19 (the novel coronavirus). – Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte tightened nationwide coronavirus restrictions on October 25, 2020 after the country registered a record number of new cases, despite opposition from regional heads and street protests over curfews. Cinemas, theatres, gyms and swimming pools must all close under the new rules, which come into force on Monday and run until November 24, while restaurants and bars will stop serving at 6 pm, the prime minister’s office said. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte resisted pressure to impose a new economically-damaging national lockdown on Monday despite spiking virus cases, instead proposing a regional approach that would target the hardest-hit areas.

Reports had suggested Conte would push for a nationwide 9:00 pm curfew during a speech in parliament, but he said such measures would need to be discussed further.

He has faced severe pressure from all sides of the debate — health experts insisting a lockdown was needed, regional leaders saying they would resist stricter measures and business owners demanding better compensation for the closure of their businesses.

Italian cities have also been hit by a wave of protests — some turning violent — as general frustration grows.

“For the entire national territory, we intend to intervene only with a few specific measures that will help to strengthen the containment and mitigation of the contagion,” said Conte, calling for the nation to “remain united in this dramatic moment”.

Among the measures announced on Monday was a reduction of capacity on public transport by 50 percent, the closure of shopping centres on weekends, complete closure of museums and moving all high schools to distance-learning.

Conte also proposed an alert system that would divide the country into three tiers of risk, with the highest risk areas subject to travel restrictions and other measures.

But the measures fell well short of what had been expected — and what has been introduced in France, the UK and Spain, for example.

Last month, the government sharpened its measures by imposing curfews in some regions and ordering bars and restaurants across the country to close at 6:00 pm.

But infection rates have continued to soar to record levels — now approaching 30,000 cases a day, higher that the UK but still lower than France.



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