Italy toughens mask rules and closes nightclubs after scientists warn cases are climbing


Wearing a face mask is to become mandatory in public places in Italy overnight while nightclubs have been ordered to close due to a spike in coronavirus cases, according to reports.

Masks will need to be worn where social distancing is not possible between 6pm and 6am, while the closure of nightclubs and dance halls also applies to outdoor venues where people dance, such as beaches and common areas in hotels.

Economic support will be provided to all venues that have to close, the government said.

The decisions were made during an urgent meeting of ministers and local officials this afternoon after 479 new infections and four deaths from COVID-19 were reported nationwide, Sky News Italia and Corriere della Sera said.

Several of the new cases over the past few weeks have reportedly been linked to nightclubs.

Ministers also said the increase in cases across Europe had helped them make the decision to impose new restrictions.

As of Sunday, travellers arriving at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain are now being tested for coronavirus as many of the cases are being brought into Italy from overseas.

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Passengers can either get tested at the airport immediately or within 48 hours of arriving at local public health officces closer to their homes or destinations in Italy.

On Saturday, the daily caseload of new infections topped 600 for the first time since May.

Alessio D’Amato, health commissioner for Lazio, the region including Rome, said concern was mounting about the rising number of infections, especially as schools go back in Italy on 14 September for the first time since the pandemic began.

Managers of nightclubs are protesting the sudden restrictions, with Silb, the Italian dance club union, saying the closure of nightclubs puts “€4bn turnover at risk” and will only encourage illegal raves.

Pierpaolo Paradiso, manager of the Praja disco in Gallipoli, told Sky New Italia: “We have become the scapegoat for infections in Italy even though no contagion has been reported in any disco.

“Our employees will not be able to reach the days necessary to have unemployment. Furthermore, I do not see the same total closure measures for bars, restaurants. and beaches.

“We only see darkness in front of us, I hope they remember having put a sector on the pavement.”

France reported 3,105 new cases in the past 24 hours and one death, while 263 clusters of cases are being investigated.

Greece’s government has ordered bars, restaurants and cafes in several regions to shut between midnight and 7am after the number of cases surged at the beginning of August.

The country had managed to keep cases relatively low, with 3,112 confirmed cases and 183 deaths in mid-June, but that has surged to 6,858 and 226 deaths as of Saturday.

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