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Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (c) made the call. Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Much of Italy will be placed under a strict lockdown as of Friday in the most drastic steps the country has taken to fight the coronavirus since it led the world into lockdown nearly eight months ago.

The big picture: Italy managed to keep the spread of the virus largely under control for months after a brutal first wave. But like much of Europe, it's currently recording unprecedented daily case counts and scrambling to avoid a return to overcrowded hospitals and climbing death tolls in the coming weeks.

Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Driving the news: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that the strictest policies would be implemented in four 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.

  • Travel in and out of those regions will be banned except where absolutely necessary, while bars and restaurants will be closed. Sicily and Puglia will face a less strict quarantine, per AP.
  • Conte has resisted a nationwide lockdown in favor of a tiered, regional approach, though he has recommended that all Italians remain home when possible and ordered most restaurants to close by 6pm.
  • The new restrictions have been met by protests, in particular from the hospitality industry, which was just beginning to recover from the previous lockdown.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
18 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus hotspots far outpacing Europe's

Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University, Census Bureau, United Nations; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

America's coronavirus outbreak has surpassed Europe's.

Why it matters: It wasn't long ago that public health experts were pointing to Europe as a warning sign for the U.S. But the U.S. now has a higher per capita caseload than the EU ever has during its recent surge.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key information about the effective COVID-19 vaccines — Oxford and AstraZeneca's vaccine won't just go to rich countries.
  2. Health: U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations keep breaking recordsWhy we're numb to 250,000 deaths.
  3. World: England to impose stricter regional systemU.S. hotspots far outpacing Europe's — Portugal to ban domestic travel for national holidays.
  4. Economy: The biggest pandemic labor market drags.
  5. Sports: Coronavirus precautions leave college basketball schedule in flux.
12 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations keep breaking records

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. has reached new record highs every day since Nov. 10.

Why it matters: Governors in states like North Dakota and Illinois have been warning about overburdened hospitals and limited beds for weeks.

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