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Italy Approves Partial Lockdown; Spain Sets National Curfew

Police patrol outside restaurants in Rome, Oct. 22. Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg


Restaurants, bars to limit hours, cinemas to shut in Italy | Spanish government orders evening curfew to stem Covid-19

By Tommaso EbhardtAlberto Brambilla, and Jeannette Neumann for Bloomberg

Italy introduced its strongest virus restrictions since the end of a national lockdown in May, and Spain will impose new measures, including a curfew, as cases surge in the two countries at the epicenter of the initial wave of the pandemic in Europe.

In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte approved a plan to limit opening hours for bars and restaurants, and shut entertainment, gambling venues and gyms. Italians will also be urged not to travel. The measures will begin on Monday and remain in effect until Nov. 24.

“We must manage the pandemic without being overwhelmed,” Conte said at a press conference in Rome on Sunday. “If we respect the rules this month, we’ll keep the curve under control and face December and the holiday season with more serenity.”

Italy’s government is running out of options to avoid a full lockdown as it’s failing to contain the virus’s spread through early autumn.

New infections rose to a record 21,273 on Sunday and there are now more than 1,200 people being treated in intensive care units for the virus.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s cabinet on Sunday approved a state of emergency and announced a national curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., except in the Canary Islands, where the infection rate is low. Regional administrations have leeway to slightly change the timing of the curfew, Sanchez said.

Italy and Spain had managed to tamp down the initial outbreak with some of the world’s strictest lockdowns. The easing of measures before the summer travel season contributed to a new wave of cases that risks overwhelming the countries’ health-care systems if unchecked. More than 70,000 people have lost their lives from the virus in the two countries, accounting for more than a third of all deaths recorded in Europe, excluding Russia.

Sanchez also delegated to local authorities the power to limit travel in their regions. Spain has a highly decentralized political system and regional administrations have oversight on many policies.

The premier said he will ask Spain’s Parliament to approve an extension of the state of emergency through May 9. Lawmakers are expected to vote on it as soon as this week. An extension through May would allow Sanchez to avoid repeatedly seeking approval for restrictions as he was obligated to do during during Spain’s lockdown earlier this year.

“Why six months? Because that’s the amount of time that experts expect we need not only to move beyond this second wave, in which we are immersed, but also to move beyond the most harmful stage of the pandemic,” Sanchez said in a nationally televised address.

“3 million people in Spain have caught the virus”

Sanchez last week signaled that infections in Spain may be much more pervasive than the official data show. More than 3 million people in Spain have caught the virus, he said on Friday, a figure some three times higher than official numbers.

Bars, restaurants to shut at 6 p.m.
– Cinemas, theatres, gyms and swimming pools to close
– Casinos, bingo halls and game rooms will also close
– Italians urged not to travel
– Shops can remain open if they can guarantee social distancing
– Non-professional sport competitions suspended
– Primary schools and workplaces will remain open
– Italians asked not to invite guests at home

Conte promised that new support measures to limit the economic impact of the restrictions will arrive by Tuesday. The government will extend furloughs and send aid money directly to impacted workers without adding to the budget deficit, he said.

— With assistance by Chiara Albanese, Alessandro Speciale, and Flavia Rotondi

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