• Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

Italy agrees curfew as Europe tries to stem Covid-19 surge

  • Published at 02:07 pm November 4th, 2020
Italy Covid-19
File photo: Italian restaurant and bar workers gather, in Piazza del Popolo to protest against the government's Covid-19 rules that they have to close everyday by 6 pm, in Rome on November 2, 2020 Reuters

The virus has claimed more than 1.2 million lives worldwide since it first emerged in China late last year

Italian officials agreed on Wednesday to impose a night-time curfew, joining a slew of European nations in ramping up restrictions in the face of a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases. 

But the measure, which restricts Italians to their homes between 10:00pm (local time) and 5:00am, fell short of the kind of rules in force in countries including France, Belgium and Germany. 

Governments in Europe are struggling to get a hold of a pandemic that has now infected more than 11 million on the continent.

On Wednesday, Russia announce a daily record for cases and deaths, upping pressure on the government only days after President Vladimir Putin said there were no plans for a lockdown.

The United States remains the worst-affected country with more than 9.6 million cases and 238,000 deaths. 

President Donald Trump, who has suffered from the virus, faced off with Joe Biden in a long-awaited election on Tuesday, with tens of millions of mask-wearing Americans streaming to the polls. 

The virus has transformed the election, with many millions avoiding the queues and the risk of infection by returning postal votes before election day. 

Trump's handling of the virus has also been under the microscope. 

With results from crucial battleground states not yet returned, the election was on a knife-edge yesterday with neither candidate taking a decisive lead.

The virus has claimed at least 1,222,683 lives worldwide since it first emerged in China late last year, according to an AFP tally yesterday at 1100 GMT based on official sources. More than 47,982,409 cases have been registered across the globe.

'Final straw' for pubs

From Britain to Turkey, European countries have reimposed strict curbs this week, echoing their moves in spring when the virus first hit Europe following its emergence in China. 

Many businesses are still struggling to recover from the damage of those earlier lockdowns –- particularly in the travel sector. 

The Netherlands said on Wednesday it had agreed to inject $3.9-billion into its national airline KLM after a row with pilots was resolved. 

Although many of the measures imposed this week are not as draconian as those earlier lockdowns, they have been resisted by many business-owners, politicians particularly from the right, and large sections of the population. 

"Make no mistake, this could be the final straw for thousands of pubs and brewers," said Emma McClarkin, of the British Beer and Pub Association, with English pubs ordered to close for a month from Wednesday night. 

In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has struggled to build a coalition backing more stringent measures after sporadic protests broke out over an earlier decision to shut bars and restaurants early. 

However, the curfew mixed with other restrictions such as the closure of shopping centres on weekends appeared to have struck the right compromise for regional leaders. 

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