ROME | MADRID: Italy introduced the strongest virus restrictions since the end of a national lockdown in May, and Spain will impose a national 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, well keep the curve under control and face December and the holiday season with more serenity.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Cabinet Sunday approved a new state of emergency that will give the central government more powers and he announced the government planned a national curfew from 11p.m. to 6 a.m., except in Canary Islands, where the infection rate is low.
Italy and Spain had managed to tamp down the initial ourbreak with some of the worlds strictest national lockdowns. The easing of those 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 last week signaled that infections in Spain may be much more pervasive than the official data show. More than than 3 million people in Spain have caught the virus, he said on Friday, a figure some three times higher than official numbers.