Italy imposes 'no party' rule with new anti-virus measures
A woman undergoes a swab test for coronavirus at a drive-through testing site of the Santa Maria della Pieta hospital in Rome. AFP
Italy imposed new hardened rules on Tuesday to control a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic, including an end to parties, amateur football matches and snacking at bars at night.
The decree, which is valid for 30 days, forbids restaurants and bars from serving non-seated customers after 9:00 pm in an attempt to avoid crowds.
While banning parties in general, the government also recommended that people avoid gatherings in their own homes.
"Parties are prohibited in all indoor and outdoor locations," read the decree signed by President Giuseppe Conte in the early hours of Tuesday. "As for private homes, it is however strongly recommended to avoid parties and to receive non-cohabitants of more than 6 people."
Italy registered 4,619 new cases on Monday, a return to the levels seen in April. More than 36,000 people have died of the virus, one of Europe's worst tolls.
While the infection rate remains far below that of neighbours France or Spain, the country is trying to avoid a new lockdown that would further hit its struggling economy.
A ban on gatherings was imposed in March at the height of Italy's coronavirus crisis, but after the country emerged from its over two-month lockdown, and as the summer holidays began, the ban was often flouted.
"We've specifically worked to avoid a generalised lockdown," Conte told reporters on Monday, before a night of last-minute negotiations with regional leaders.
Conte did not exclude imposing measures targeting particular geographical areas if cases continue to rise.
Besides the ban on contact sports between friends, such as football or basketball, other new rules are aimed at controlling infections among youth, such as a ban on school trips.
For receptions related to religious and civil functions like marriages and baptisms, the decree imposes a limit of 30 attendees.
Last week, Italy reinstated its rule to make mask-wearing compulsory in public, even outdoors. The new decree also "strongly recommends" the use of masks inside the home when others who do not live there are present.
Discos will continue to remain closed, while trade shows, concerts and other gatherings are allowed, with limits on the number of people.