Italy tightens coronavirus rules

Photo: ANSA Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza

Italy is tightening its coronavirus rules again due to rising case numbers, designating three areas as so-called red zones on Sunday, Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced. In the new red zones - Lombardy, Sicily and the autonomous province of Bolzano - people were ordered not to leave their homes if possible, except to go to work, buy groceries or for other urgent reasons.

Most of Italy was now classified as an orange zone, meaning inhabitants are urged not to leave their city or town, and shops - except supermarkets - bars and restaurants are to close.

The government had previously tightened the criteria for the classification of the zones.

The new rules mean that 70% of the Italian gastronomy sector is being shut down again, according to the agricultural association Coldiretti, after outlets were allowed to reopen for a short period after the holidays.

Coldiretti said the restrictions hit the entire agricultural and food sectors hard and called for subsidies to save jobs and protect the economy.

The tighter rules come as authorities recorded 16,000 new infections and 477 deaths due to the virus on Friday. Despite the tougher restrictions, museums and exhibitions in some regions are allowed to open again from Monday. That rule applies to so-called yellow zones, where the epidemiological situation is less severe than other parts of the country, according to a decree signed on Saturday by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

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