The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

Covid-19: Italy shuts restaurants early; Spain orders curfew; Bulgarian PM tests positive

Associated Press Sunday, 25 October 2020, 16:54 Last update: about 2 months ago

Italy's leader imposed at least a month of new restrictions across the country Sunday to fight rising coronavirus infections, shutting down gyms, pools and movie theaters, putting an early curfew on cafes and restaurants and mandating that people keep wearing masks outdoors.

Worried about crippling Italy's stagnant economy, especially after 10 weeks of a severe lockdown earlier in the pandemic, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte opted against another heavy nationwide lockdown. The new decree goes into effect Monday and lasts until Nov. 24.

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"Our aim is to protect health and the economy," Conte said.

A day earlier, Italy surpassed a half million confirmed coronavirus cases since February, when it became the first country in Europe stricken by the pandemic. The last two days have seen daily new infections creep close to 20,000 and Italy still has Europe's second-highest virus death toll after Britain, at 37,210 people.

Restaurant and bar owners had lobbied hard against the new measures, which orders them to close at 6 p.m. Most restaurants in Italy usually don't even start to serve dinner before 8 p.m. Cafes and restaurants were allowed in recent months to re-open for outdoor dining or limited indoor seating. But many are struggling to pay their bills and some have already failed after tourists were banned from the United States and many other countries.

Conte promised financial aid from his center-left government as soon as November to the food sector and noted that cafes and restaurants can do delivery and takeout orders until midnight. But before the curfew, no more than four diners will be allowed per restaurant table, unless they are from the same family.

Under the new rules, ski slopes are off-limits to all but competitive skiers and all spectators are banned from stadiums during professional sports matches, including soccer. Receptions after religious or civil ceremonies like weddings are forbidden. The decree continues to exempt children younger than six and those exercising outdoors from wearing masks.

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Spain orders nationwide curfew to stem worsening outbreak

Buckling under the resurgence of the coronavirus in Europe, the Spanish government on Sunday declared a national state of emergency that includes an overnight curfew in hopes of not repeating the near collapse of the country's hospitals.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the decision to restrict free movement on the streets of Spain between 11 p.m.-6 a.m. allows exceptions for commuting to work, buying medicine, and caring for elderly and young family members. He said the curfew takes effect Sunday night and would likely remain in place for six months.

"The reality is that Europe and Spain are immersed in a second wave of the pandemic," Sánchez said during a nationwide address after meeting with his Cabinet. "The situation we are living in is extreme."

The leaders of Spain's 17 regions and two autonomous cities will have authority to set different hours for the curfew as long as they are stricter, close regional borders to travel, and limit gatherings to six people who don't live together, the prime minister said.

The curfew does not apply to Spain's Canary Islands, which were recently removed from Britain's and Germany's list of unsafe travel destinations due to the favorable trajectory of the virus on the archipelago.

With the mainland curfew, Spain is following the example of neighboring France, where the government ordered a  9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew  for major cities and large swaths of the country this week.

Health officials have been targeting nightlife and partying as some of the main sources for the latest revival of infections.

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Bulgarian leader tests positive for new coronavirus

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has tested positive for the new coronavirus as the number of infected with COVID-19 in the Balkan country has been on a steady rise in the two weeks.

Borissov made the disclosure in a Facebook message on Sunday.

"After two PCR tests, today I am positive for COVID-19," Borissov wrote.

He said that he has a "general indisposition" and, following the recommendations of doctors, will remain at home for treatment.

The Balkan nation of 7 million people has recorded 37,562 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 1,084 deaths.

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MOSCOW -- Russia's tally of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 1.5 million on Sunday as authorities reported 16,710 new infections amid a rapid resurgence of the outbreak that has swept the country in recent weeks.

Russia's caseload remains the fourth largest in the world. The government's coronavirus task force has also registered a total of over 26,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

The task force has been reporting over 15,000 new infections every day since last Sunday, which is much higher than in the spring, when the highest number of daily new cases was 11,656.

Despite the sharp spike in daily new infections, Russian authorities have repeatedly dismissed the idea of imposing a second lockdown or shutting down businesses after most virus-related restrictions were lifted during the summer. In some Russian regions, officials urged the elderly to self-isolate at home and called on employers to have at least part of their staff work from home. Several regions have shut down nightclubs and limited the hours of restaurants and bars.

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BERLIN — Austria has tightened its coronavirus rules as the Alpine country sees new daily records of infections.

Starting Sunday, no more than six people are allowed to meet indoors, including events such as birthday parties, yoga or dance classes. Outside, a maximum of 12 people are allowed to get together. In restaurants, the number of guests has been reduced to no more than 10 per table.

People also need to wear masks in train stations, markets and nursing homes.

On Saturday, the daily virus numbers reached a new high of reported 3,614 cases. On Sunday, the figure was lower at 2,782, however not all new cases get reported on weekends.

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NEW DELHI — India's daily coronavirus cases have dropped to nearly 50,000, maintaining a downturn over the last few weeks.

The Health Ministry says 50,129 new cases have taken the overall tally to nearly 7.9 million on Sunday. It also reported 578 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising total fatalities to 118,534.

The ministry also said India's active coronavirus cases were below 700,000 across the country and almost 7.1 million people had recovered from COVID-19.

India is second to the United States with the largest outbreak of the coronavirus. Last month, India hit a peak of nearly 100,000 cases in a single day, but since then daily cases have fallen by about half and deaths by about a third.

Some experts say the decline in cases suggests that the virus may have finally reached a plateau but others question the testing methods. India is relying heavily on antigen tests, which are faster but less accurate than traditional RT-PCR tests.

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BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia reached 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, its health ministry says, becoming the second country in Latin America to report that number in less than a week.

The nation of 50 million saw cases peak in August and has seen a decline since but still continues to register around 8,000 new infections a day.

Eight countries now have more than 1 million confirmed cases, and three are in Latin America. Argentina hit 1 million confirmed cases on Monday. Brazil ranks third worldwide in the number of virus cases, with more than 5 million, and passed 1 million infections back in June. Peru and Mexico are expected to reach 1 million cases each in the coming weeks.

 

 

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