I amOn Sunday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced new restrictions to combat the Coronavirus on bars, restaurants and public gatherings, in a move designed to stem a spike in infections and avoid a new nationwide lockdown.

Under the new rules, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theaters will be closed, while bars and restaurants will be required to close at 6pm local time, including Sundays.

The new decree, which was signed after night-time negotiations with regional governors, will take effect from tomorrow until November 24.

“We need to do everything we can to protect our health and our economy and avoid a second general lockdown,” Conte told a news conference on Sunday.

He added, “If we respect the rules in November, we will succeed in keeping the contagion curve under control and we can ease measures to face December and Christmas with more calm.”

On Saturday, Italy topped the level of half a million in the number of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, as new daily cases increased by about 20 thousand cases.

The new decree does not encourage movement across regions, if not for strict health or work reasons, but does not impose any restrictions.

Secondary schools will have to provide up to 75 percent of teaching through online education, but specific actions will be taken at the local level.

Conte acknowledged that the new rules would hit some classes of businesses hard, but promised that the government would compensate them with “substantial” financial aid.

Giada Zampano reports.