After Italy recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began, the prime minister has announced tough festive restrictions, banning midnight mass and implementing a curfew on New Year’s Eve.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte sought to reassure people that there was no reason for festivities to be less “authentic” than in previous years, although he did urge people to tone down their celebrations. 

“We must eliminate the risk of a third wave which could arrive in January – and not less serious than the first and the second,” he warned.

In an effort to limit the spread of the virus, people will only be permitted to move between Italy’s 20 regions for work, medical reasons or emergencies from December 21 to January 6. Travel between towns will be forbidden on Christmas Day, St Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Day. 

Individuals will not be banned from having guests in their home but it will be advised against, while large gatherings such as midnight mass will be banned, while a nationwide curfew will be implemented on New Year’s Eve from 10pm to 7am.

The move has been met with some criticism from a number of Italian politicians, with Lombard Governor Attilio Fontana branding the new rules “crazy” and claiming it has been  issued by decree in contradiction of the relationship between the state and regions.

Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the novel coronavirus and it is currently battling a renewed spike in case numbers and fatalities. On Thursday, health authorities reported 993 coronavirus-related deaths in the previous 24 hours – a new grim record for Italy. 

More than 57,000 people have died there from the virus and over 1,641,000 cases have been confirmed since the start of the pandemic.

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