Italy’s Conte Mulling Tighter Virus Curbs for the Holiday Season

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    Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he plans further curbs to slow the coronavirus pandemic during the festive season, as he wrestles with a divided coalition government.

    “Some further restrictive measures are now necessary,” the premier told newspaper La Stampa. “We have to avoid a third wave at all costs, because the loss of lives would be devastating.”

    Conte did not specify the measures under consideration, but his ministers are divided over the extent of restrictions during the Christmas and New Year period. Options include closing bars and restaurants, as well as non-essential shops, and strict limits on people leaving their homes.

    Italy overtook the U.K. over the weekend as the European state with the highest number of virus deaths. While the country has seen a slight decline in new cases, the number of daily fatalities remains high. Earlier this month, the government banned movements between regions from Dec. 21 to Jan. 6. Traveling between different towns will also be barred on Dec. 25, Dec. 26 and Jan. 1.

    Conte said he was “very concerned” by the sight of Christmas shoppers packing cities and towns over recent days. He urged Italians to “be responsible” and recalled his government’s strong recommendation to citizens not to invite people from outside their households to Christmas or New Year parties.

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