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The Government, led by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, is preparing a regulation with anti-COVID regulations in time for the festive holiday season. In a huge hammer blow to the population, people will only be able to meet with others from their immediate families, with most of the strict coronavirus rules already introduced over recent weeks remaining in place. Vice Minister of Health Sandra Zampa said in an interview with daily newspaper La Stampa: “Families will only be able to meet in the closest circle, relatives of the first degree, siblings.
“Italy is the first EU country to also ban Christmas with extended families.
“Most of the current anti-Covid measures are also to remain in force over the Christmas holidays.”
But there is some good news for the millions of Italians, with the possibility of restrictions on retail being eased in time for the hectic Christmas shopping period.
However, social democratic politician also warned: “This epidemic must be tackled with the greatest possible sense of reason.
“If there is no turnaround, no health system in the world can withstand the pressure of the epidemic.”
The latest comments from the Government come with the increasingly strict coronavirus measures threatening to blow a huge hole in Italy’s already fragile economy in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
The trade association Confcommercio has warned trade could be hit by as much as 110 million.
Several regions throughout Italy have already been in a “mini-lockdown” since Friday, which has forced the closure of all shops except essential retail such as supermarkets, chemists, newspaper kiosks and tobacconists.
But the increasingly aggressive moves from the government have been met with a furious response in some quarters, with the Confesercenti Retail Association filed an objection to a court in Rome on Wednesday against the decision to close shopping centres on weekends and holidays.
The retail body has claimed this strict measure threatens the future of several shops that are currently renting expensive space in shopping centres.
The protests against the stronger coronavirus measures saw the Government in Rome on Saturday deciding to provide a bumper financial package to help impacted companies and employees throughout Italy.
The package, worth €2.5 billion, includes tax breaks, loans, deferred payments and grants, and adds to the aid measures worth €5.4 billion the Government had already approved by the end of October.
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Five regions throughout Italy are currently in a partial lockdown, although the new measures are less strict than those introduced at the height of the pandemic in the spring.
The red zones include the financially strong Lombardy region with ten million people in the north, Piedmont, South Tyrol and the Aosta Valley, and Calabria in the south.
Five other regions deemed to have a lower coronavirus infection rate have now been assigned a higher risk class by the government.
Abruzzo, Basilicata. Liguria, Tuscany and Umbria, which were all previously “yellow” regions, will now be listed as “orange zones” from Wednesday.
Further restrictions have also been introduced throughout Italy, including an evening curfew – a measure also introduced in several other sizable European countries, including France.
The only exceptions to the rule are those travelling to work or visiting their doctor for medical reasons.
Museums are also closed, while secondary schools and universities have reverted to teaching students online.
On Tuesday, Italy recorded 35,098 coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours – a surge from the 25,271 cases announced on Monday.
The health ministry also reported 580 deaths related to COVID-19 compared to 356 the day before – the highest daily death toll since April 14.
There have now been nearly one million registered infections in Italy, with the death toll from coronavirus no standing at 42,330.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.
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