Anger over Italy virus rules as curfews enforced around Europe

Anger over Italy virus rules as curfews enforced around Europe

Monday, October 26, 2020

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ROME,Italy(AFP) — Anger was growing in Italy Monday over harsh new coronavirus restrictions brought in to "save Christmas", while other hard-hit countries enforced curfews in a bid to avoid fresh national lockdowns.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's decision to close restaurants and bars from 6:00 pm and shut all theatres, cinemas and gyms for a month was widely criticised, even as scientists questioned whether it would be enough to stop the virus.

"These restrictions will be the end of us," said Giuseppe Tonon, 70, the owner of a restaurant in Oderzo, a small village in northeastern Italy.

"We're not in a city centre, we're in the provinces. Our customers come in the evening or during the weekend," he told AFP after a photograph of him, slumped in despair at the news, went viral on social media.

Countries across Europe are seeing dramatic spikes in cases, and governments are taking drastic action.

Spain imposed a new national state of emergency and overnight curfews, while France set a daily record of more than 50,000 cases and extended an overnight curfew to cover areas home to around 46 million people.

COVID-19 has now claimed the lives of 1.1 million people and infected more than 43 million globally.

The United States — still the worst-hit country — smashed its own record for new daily cases this weekend, pushing the issue up the agenda in the nation's presidential election campaign.

The European Union said it was scaling back meetings of experts and senior officials, opting for more videoconferences as Brussels is hit by a dramatic coronavirus surge.

New controls entered into force on Monday on most of Slovenia's frontiers with Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia.

And in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party said it would push back a congress planned for early December to elect a new leader due to a surge in coronavirus infections.

But the battle was being won elsewhere: Australia's second-biggest city Melbourne registered no new cases on Monday, and was set to exit lockdown this week after nearly four months of onerous restrictions.

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