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Duomo Square is seen empty in Florence, Italy, as the country imposes new restrictions. Photo: Paolo Lo Debole/Getty Image

Italy has announced it is tightening coronavirus restrictions for five regions experiencing a wave of cases, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: Like much of Europe, Italy is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases nationwide, straining the country's hospitals and health care system.

Details: The central regions of Tuscany, Abruzzo and Umbria in addition to Basilicata in the south and Liguria on the coast have moved from the "yellow zone" category to the more restricted "orange zone," in the country's tiered COVID-19 classification system, per Reuters.

  • People can move about within their towns or regions, but cannot leave them, Reuters reported.
  • Bars and restaurants will close, but shops can remain open.

What they're saying: “Nearly all the Italian regions are highly affected,” said Giovanni Rezza, the director of the prevention department at the Health Ministry, per NYT.

  • Rezza also said the restrictions were necessary because the virus “keeps worsening.”

The big picture: Italy has already imposed a nationwide curfew, from 10pm to 5am daily, and mandated restaurants and bars to close early.

  • But Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has so far resisted implementing a strict countrywide lockdown, and instead he's taken a regional, tiered approach.
  • Last week, Conte announced that the strictest policies would be implemented in four "red zone" regions: Lombardy, Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta in the north, as well as Calabria in the south. Lombardy is home to Milan and accounts for one-fifth of Italy's GDP.
  • Bolzano, in the northern part of the country, was expected to be added to the "red zone" list, Reuters reported Monday.
  • Travel in and out of those regions is banned except when absolutely necessary, and bars and restaurants are shuttered. People must also stay in their homes unless they are shopping for essential items or exercising nearby, per AP.
  • Some regional officials have protested the restrictions, per NYT.

Go deeper... In photos: Coronavirus restrictions grow across Europe

Go deeper

20 hours ago - World

Azar's UN remarks to take aim at China

Alex Azar during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing. Photo credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is expected to give a speech at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday that hails U.S. progress on coronavirus vaccines while criticizing — though not directly naming — China.

Why it matters: U.S. government officials are concerned that China will use the UN special session to spread disinformation about the origins of the virus and China's early missteps in handling the pandemic.

19 hours ago - Health

WH coronavirus task force: States must "flatten the curve" to sustain health system

A walk-up Covid-19 testing site in San Fernando, California, on Nov. 24, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The White House coronavirus task force warned states "the COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high" and to brace for another surge following Thanksgiving, per a report that emerged Wednesday.

Driving the news: "If you are under 40, you need to assume you became infected during the Thanksgiving period if you gathered beyond your immediate household," said the report, dated Nov. 29, first published by the Center for Public Integrity.

Bipartisan group of lawmakers unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.

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