Coronavirus figures in Italy have begun to rise for the first time since the country’s lockdown, forcing the government to swiftly bring back some lockdown measures. Following mounting fears that young people are catching and spreading the virus to older Italians, the nation has ordered the closure of all nightclubs and discos.
The move was made following a sudden rise of 629 cases on Saturday – the first time Italy has seen a daily increase of more than 600 since lockdown measures began to ease in May.
The new rules came into effect on Monday.
Along with the closure of nightclubs, face masks will also be mandatory between 6pm and 6am in public areas close to bars and pubs where crowds are more likely to gather.
Cases in the country are now more than double to those recorded three weeks ago following a national holiday which is thought to have seen more people going out dancing.
According to figures in the country, the average age of people catching the virus has now dropped below 40.
Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza posted an urgent warning to the nation on Facebook.
“We cannot nullify the sacrifices made in past months,” he said.
He also reminded young people to be cautious, warning: “If they infect their parents and their grandparents, they risk creating real damage.”
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Despite criticisms in recent months, Italy continued to allow nightclubs to remain open.
The nightlife industry in Italy brings in around €4 billion (around £3.6 billion) a year, and the closures are likely to cause economic damage according to industry minister Stefano Patuanelli.
“The expected damage from the closing of the discos is big but I don’t see alternatives, more attention is needed to avoid returning to the March data,” said Patuanelli.
Since the announcement of the UK’s travel corridors, many Britons have opted to visit Italy for their summer holiday.
Tourists will also be required to follow the new rules surrounding face masks near busy bars and pubs.
Further restrictions also ban gatherings with dancing in open spaces such as beaches and squares.
For those with impending holiday plans or who are already in the country, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warns they “must comply with the regulations of the region they are visiting.”
Social distancing of one metre must be observed in public spaces.
The FCO adds: “Using masks remains mandatory in enclosed public spaces and (in some regions) in all public places and some outdoor places.
“You should pay close attention to signage and carry a mask with you at all times in Italy.”
Though Italy has managed to get a grip on the virus since lockdown measures were introduced, it was one of the countries worst affected by the pandemic in its early stages.
To date, the country has recorded 254,235 confirmed cases of the virus.
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