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Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Sunday announced new anti-coronavirus restrictions for bars, restaurants and public gatherings, in a move aimed at stopping a spike in infections and avoiding a new nationwide lockdown.  

Under the new rules, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theaters will be closed, while bars and restaurants will be obliged to shut down at 6pm local time, including Sundays.  

The new decree, signed after night-long negotiations with regional governors, will be effective from tomorrow until November 24.  

“We need to do as much as possible to protect our health and our economy and avoid a second general lockdown,” Conte said at a press conference on Sunday. 

“If we respect the rules in November, we will manage to keep the contagion curve under control and could soften the measures to face December and Christmas with more calm,” he added. 

On Saturday, Italy topped the half-million mark in the number of confirmed coronavirus infections, as new daily cases rose by about 20,000.  

The new decree discourages movements across regions, if not for strict health or working reasons, but introduces no limitations.  

High schools will have to provide up to 75 per cent of teaching through online schooling, but specific action will be decided at a local level.   

Conte acknowledged that the new rules will hit some business categories hard, but promised that the government will compensate them with “substantial” financial aid. 

Giada Zampano reports.

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