The Italian government was preparing on Monday to adopt tougher measures against the spread of the coronavirus, insisting that a total shutdown of the country would not be necessary.
“We would like to adopt the new decree with the new measures tonight,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told reporters during a visit to the southern city of Taranto.
The decree was expected to introduce a ban on private parties and limit attendance numbers at ceremonies like weddings, baptisms and funerals. It was also likely to mandate earlier closing times for bars and restaurants and ban any huddling outside them, according to multiple press reports.
When asked if restrictions could eventually stretch to a new national lockdown, Conte said “no,” but said there could be “very localized” closures “should this [infection] curve keep rising.”
Until October 1, Italy’s coronavirus caseload remained under 2,000 per day, but numbers have since spiralled upwards and went beyond 5,700 on Saturday, a near record.
On Monday, the figure fell to 4,619, but post-weekend infection figures always tend to be lower due to reduced testing capacity on Saturdays and Sundays.
With the latest update, Italy’s total infections count reached 359,569, and overall death toll from the pandemic increased by 39, hitting 36,205.