MILAN (Reuters) – Italy is preparing fresh nationwide restrictions, including on private parties, in response to a recent spike in new coronavirus cases, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Sunday.
Speranza said Italy needed to add restrictions after having eased them for several weeks, as it aims to avoid a new national lockdown.
“Now we need a change of pace, and to intervene with measures, not comparable to those adopted in the past, which could allow us to put the contagion under control and avoid tougher measures later on,” he said in an interview with RAI state TV.
Italy on Friday topped 5,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day for the first time since March. Daily infections remained over 5,000 both on Saturday and Sunday. Deaths linked to COVID-19 are far fewer, however, than at the height of the pandemic in the country in March and April.
Speranza said he proposed a ban on private parties, involving both children and adults, while Rome would also target hours for bars and restaurants to reduce people’s contagion risks.
Other measures could involve sports with physical contact that offer no chance to wear a mask, he said without elaborating further.
Rome last Wednesday made it mandatory to wear face masks outdoors nationwide.
The new restrictions package will be discussed with regions on Monday and will be included in a decree that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte could sign as early as Monday evening, Speranza said.
Earlier on Sunday, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio ruled out another national lockdown, saying the Italian economy could not afford it.
Speranza did not rule out that targeted local lockdowns could be imposed in the future if critical situations arise.
“But at this time, I don’t see such conditions in Italy,” he said.
(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Peter Cooney)