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Italy sets tough curbs for Christmas, New Year holidays

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Rome, Dec 4 (IANS) In an effort to prevent a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Italy has imposed tough restrictions for the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays, which will include a ban on inter-regional travel and a nationwide curfew on December 31.

The restrictions were approved in a cabinet decree passed on Thursday, and will come into force between from Friday to January 15, 2021, reports Xinhua news agency.

Different rules would last variously within this timeframe.

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At a press conference on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that the new tough restrictions were necessary because the country, one of the worst-hit in Europe, still had a long way ahead in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have to wait for the vaccine plan to be operative; we have to wait for the monoclonal treatments,” he said.

“All of this will come with the next year, but it is clear this will be a Christmas unlike any others.”

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The new rules include a ban on travels between the country’s 20 regions from December 21 to January 6, except for provable work reasons, emergency cases, and health needs.

This ban will extend to travels between towns on December 25-26, and January 1.

On New Year’s Eve, a national curfew will enter in force from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. on January 1. No parties will be allowed in public places, hotels, and restaurants.

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Restaurants, bars, and any other catering businesses will be allowed to open at lunchtime and close at 6 p.m. in the festivities such as Christmas, December 26, and Dece,ber 31 in the yellow regions — those considered at low risk of contagion in the current three-tier system.

In the orange and red regions, at medium and at high risk, respectively, restaurants will stay closed, while bars and other food shops will remain open until 6 p.m., whereas home deliveries will always be allowed.

On Christmas Eve, religious ceremonies will be celebrated at 8 p.m., ahead of the usual 12 midnight.

Between Friday and January 6, shops will remain open until 9 p.m.

However, the cabinet kept a stricter line on malls: here, shops will close during weekends and holidays, as they have been doing since early November, except for grocery stores, pharmacies, and news-stands.

Also from Friday, a 14-day quarantine will be imposed on all people returning from countries outside the European Union.

At the press conference, the Prime Minister especially urged restraint at celebrations and family exchanges during holidays to avoid a third pandemic wave in the country.

“We cannot enter into the people’s home and impose tight limitations… But we do strongly recommend people not to receive anyone at home, but for those whom they live with,” he said.

“This is especially true on major convivial occasions when celebrating usually becomes more intense.”

–IANS

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