Italy closes nightclubs and makes masks compulsory outdoors as cases spike

Italy has closed nightclubs and made face masks compulsory outdoors after a spike in coronavirus cases among young people.

New cases in the past week in Italy, the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus, were more than double those registered three weeks ago.

The median age of people contracting the virus has dropped below 40, data showed.

The new rules will start on Monday and will run at least until September 7, Corriere della Sera reports.

At the weekend, many young people in Italy have gone out dancing at Ferragosto, a public holiday celebrated every year on August 15.



But from Monday, August 17, it will be forbidden to dance in nightclubs and other party venues.

The restrictions also apply to open spaces such as beaches and squares.

Minister of Economic Development Stefano Patuanelli has announced venues will receive economic support while they are closed.

So far, 100 million euros are available for the businesses which will be forced to close down again, La Repubblica reports.



Italy closes nightclubs and makes masks compulsory outdoors as cases spike

“The expected damage from the closing of the discos is big but I don’t see alternatives, more attention is needed to avoid returning to the March data,” said Patuanelli.

“We will do everything possible to give economic support to the businesses that will have losses.”

Face masks will be required between 6pm and 6am in areas close to bars and pubs and where gatherings are more likely.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Facebook : “We cannot nullify the sacrifices made in past months.



Italy closes nightclubs and makes masks compulsory outdoors as cases spike

“Our priority must be that of opening schools in September, in full safety.”

Speranza on Saturday urged young people to be as cautious as possible as “if they infect their parents and their grandparents, they risk creating real damage”.

On Sunday, 479 new cases were confirmed, down from 629 on Saturday, with nightlife, the return of holidaymakers, and younger generations flouting social distancing rules being blamed by medical experts for the recent spike. 

Minister of Regional Affairs and Autonomies Francesco Boccia however said Italy still remains “one of the safest countries in the world for health safety”.

Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli conceded there would be economic damage, but said he saw no alternative.

Since its outbreak came to light on February 21, Italy has recorded 253,915 cases and 35,396 deaths.

Testing on holidaymakers landing in Rome’s airports began on Sunday after the government said on Wednesday that people travelling from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain must be screened for the virus.

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