Oct 25, 2020 - Health

Italy tightens restrictions as COVID-19 cases soar

Italy's prime minister leans on a podium while wearing a face mask
Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte holds a press conference on Oct. 25 in Rome. Photo: Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced new coronavirus restrictions on Sunday that require face coverings be worn outdoors and mandate bars and restaurants close early.

Why it matters: Nearly 20,000 new cases were recorded in Italy on Saturday alone, per data from Johns Hopkins. COVID-19 infections began spiking dramatically in early October, after the country suppressed its first wave over the summer.

  • Earlier this month, Italy had banned parties, and recommended private gatherings not exceed six people, per the New York Times. The country had also ordered restaurants and bars to stop serving non-seated customers after 9 p.m.

Details: Under the restrictions announced on Sunday, gyms, movie theaters and pools will be closed for at least a month, AP reports.

  • Bars and restaurants must also close by 6 p.m. Most restaurants don't usually start serving dinner until at least 8 p.m., AP notes.
  • Children under the age of six and people exercising outdoors are except from the mask requirement.
  • The new restrictions are scheduled to remain until Nov. 24.

What they're saying: Hospital admissions and the number of patients in intensive care are rising alongside COVID-19 cases, as well as outbreaks detected at schools, Giovanni Rezza, director of the infective illness department at Italy's National Health Institute, said in a video statement on Friday.

  • "The epidemic is rapidly worsening," the health ministry added in its latest coronavirus weekly tracking report. The ministry also urged Italians to reduce contact with people outside their homes as much as possible.

The big picture: Spain and Italy, the European countries first hardest-hit by the coronavirus this spring, are again fighting the virus after flattening their infection curves this summer.

  • Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Sunday announced a new state of emergency to fight rising cases.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron also recently declared a state of health emergency and instated a curfew on some of the regions that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus.

Go deeper: In photos: Coronavirus restrictions grow across Europe

Go deeper