Italy further limits mobility and will not allow people to leave town either for Christmas or New Year

The country registered its highest coronavirus death toll (993) on Thursday

The Italian government has increased mobility restrictions throughout the country during the Christmas holidays. The population will not be able to move between regions from 21 December to 6 January. In addition, a local lockdown will also be applied on the dates of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve.

The twenty regions of the country are divided into three categories according to the degree of incidence of the coronavirus: red, orange and yellow. This formula has allowed Italy to avoid total confinement in this second wave. Until 21st December, entering or leaving the orange and red regions is not allowed. Thereafter, the restriction will affect the whole country. However, there will be exceptions to the mobility restrictions to allow citizens to go to work, receive medical care and ensure the functioning of the emergency services.

The government has withstood pressure from the leaders of the Alpine regions and will keep the ski slopes closed until 7 January, as planned, along the lines of France and Germany, who wanted a Europe-wide agreement to prevent the opening of these facilities until after the holidays. As for restaurants, they will be able to open in some regions until 6pm, but in other parts of the country it will only be possible to order takeaway food. The curfew will remain in force between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Among the measures adopted is also the obligation to take a covid-19 test for people who want to enter Italy between 10 and 21 December and, if they arrive from outside the Schengen area, they will also have to self-isolate for fourteen days. The measure will apply to all travellers arriving in the country between 21 December and 5 January.

Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte justified the new measures to avoid the risk of a third wave of covid-19, which "could arrive in January and would be no less serious than the first and second waves". According to him, these restrictions must allow all regions to become a yellow zone within a few weeks. But the regional authorities have sharply criticised the decisions taken by the executive: in a joint statement they complain that they have not been consulted, which has made it impossible to "adjust the restrictions to the needs of families".

The debate has been intense in the Italian Parliament. Matteo Renzi, the former prime minister and leader of the centrist party Italia Viva, has criticised the measures taken by Conte for their economic impact and has called for softer restrictions. Matteo Salvini, leader of the far right Lega Nord party, appealed to emotions saying that "these families must continue to be divided at Christmas too". "This is further proof that this government does not know Italy," he added.

New peak in deaths

The announcement of new restrictions came on the same day that Italy recorded a new record number of deaths from coronavirus, with 993, surpassing the previous daily high of 968, which had occurred on 27 March, in the middle of the first wave. Italy was then in a strict lockdown.

The first wave particularly affected the north of Italy, but the second wave was more severe in the southern regions, where it had a great impact on both the economy and health. The north, on the other hand, has now managed to mitigate the effects of covid-19 to a greater extent.

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