Italy closes gyms, shuts eateries early to fight COVID-19

Italy’s leader has imposed at least a month of new restrictions to fight rising coronavirus infections, insisting that people outdoors wear masks, shutting down gyms, pools and movie theaters and putting an early curfew on cafes and restaurants

The decree Conte signed Sunday exempts children younger than six and those exercising outdoors from wearing masks and also made ski slopes off-limits to all but competitive skiers. It goes into effect Monday and lasts until Nov. 24.

A day earlier, Italy surpassed the half-million mark in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases since February, when it became the first country to be stricken in Europe. The last two days have seen daily new caseloads creep close to 20,000.

Restaurant and bar owners had lobbied hard against the new measures, which orders them to close at 6 p.m. daily. Most restaurants in Italy usually don’t even start to serve dinner before 8 p.m., so the restriction seriously cuts into revenues. Cafes and restaurants were allowed in recent months to re-open after the spring lockdown for outdoor dining or limited indoor seating.

Several Italian regions and cities recently slapped on overnight curfews to cut down on young people congregating outdoors, especially to drink.

On Friday, demonstrators in Naples protesting a 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew clashed with police. On Saturday night, far-right and neo-fascist political groups led a similar protest in Rome against that city’s curfew.

Masks were already required on public transit and in indoor venues like supermarkets and other stores.


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