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Italy’s Prime Minister announces swift new measures to deter second national lockdown

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Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced a raft of new measures to halt a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and avoid a second national lockdown.

Speaking at a news conference where he appeared wearing a face mask, Mr Conte gave mayors the power to shut public squares from 9pm as he outlined the “critical” situation the country is facing.

“We cannot waste time,” he said. “We must act by fielding all the measures necessary to avert a new generalised lockdown… which would end up severely compromising the entire economic fabric.”

Mr Conte also ordering betting shops to close from 9pm and the halting amateur sporting competitions and local fairs. He said the government would further consider closing gyms and swimming pools.

Daily cases in Italy hit a record 11,705 yesterday, while Covid-related deaths jumped by 69, up from 47 the day before, although still far below the peak of more than 900 in March and Italy.

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Restaurants and other food shop will be allowed to remain open until midnight but will be able to serve only seated customers after 6pm.

Stricter measures have been already imposed in some of the hardest-hit regions, including Campania around Naples, which has closed schools for two weeks.

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As the virus continues to surge across Europe, Slovenia formally declared an epidemic today allowing the government to impose further restrictions. So far, Slovenia has tightened face mask rules, curbed the operation of bars and restaurants and switched most schoolchildren and university students from classroom to online teaching.

The country of two million people was the first in Europe in May to declare the end of the epidemic after the spring wave.

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has tested negative for coronavirus after she had left the European Union summit prematurely on Friday having come near people who later tested positive.

“The prime minister will continue her self-isolation and she will be tested again [today],” her office said in a statement, adding her voluntary quarantine would end if the second test result proved negative.

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