Italy Further Tightens Closures as Coronavirus Infections Surge 

With the number of daily new infections from the coronavirus now close to 20,000, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Sunday announced new closures set to take effect on Monday. He is tightening restrictions nationwide for the next month despite street protests in Rome and Naples over curfews.  Concerns over the fast-rising numbers in new daily infections from the coronavirus have brought a rapid tightening of measures by the Italian government. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a new decree announcing the new closures that would take effect across the country starting at midnight.  Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wearing a protective face mask gestures as he speaks during a news conference on government’s new anti-COVID-19 measures, at Chigi Palace in Rome, Oct. 25, 2020.Conte said the analysis of the epidemiological curve shows a rapid increase with the consequence that across nearly the entire country, the spread of the contagion and the stress on the health system have reached concerning levels. The government has ordered bars, cafes and restaurants to stop serving at 6 p.m. local time. At restaurants, only four customers will be allowed to sit at the same table unless they live under the same roof. Seventy-five percent of lessons for high school students will be online but younger children will continue to be able to attend their classes in person. Gyms, swimming pools, spas, cinemas, theaters and gaming halls will be shuttered as will ski resorts. There will be no more fairs and gatherings for weddings and other such events. Local police officers check that stores are closed in a shopping center in Milan, after the Lombardy region imposed a stop to non-essential economic activities and people’s movements between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m, in Milan, Oct. 24, 2020.The latest decree also encourages members of the public not to leave home unless they have to go to work, school, or venture out for health or other strictly necessary reasons. The government says smart working must take place as much as possible and families should also avoid hosting people at home. As the number of people going into intensive care units also rises, Prime Minister Conte has been trying to avoid a new national lockdown, aware of the further damage it would cause to the Italian economy, already suffering from last-year’s two-month-long lockdown. He says every effort is needed to halt the rapid resurgence of the virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease. Conte said everything possible must be done to protect both health and the economy. For the past couple of days and before the new closures were announced, Italy witnessed street protests in Naples and Rome, indicating that despite the concerns over the rising number of infections, there is general discontent in the nation and fears that this pandemic is far from under control.