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Italy tightens coronavirus restrictions as infections jump

Italy on Sunday tightened coronavirus restrictions for the third time in less than two weeks, as the rate of infections in the country soars.

Only six people will be allowed to sit together in restaurants and bars, and venues with no seating will be forced to shut at 6 pm, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on television, calling on Italians to exercise “maximum caution” in what had become a “critical situation.”

He encouraged mayors to shut squares where Italians like to gather in the evenings and said offices should push employees to work from home.

Amateur sporting competitions are also facing restrictions, while gyms have one week to come up with tougher anti-coronavirus measures or face closure, he said.

The number of infections has increased dramatically in Italy this month, from around 2,500 cases a day at the beginning of October to almost 12,000 on Sunday.

Rome made mask-wearing mandatory, even in outside spaces, on October 7 and later banned parties and ordered restaurants and bars to close at midnight.

The new restrictions were announced hours after Italian media reported that at least 20 lawmakers from the Chamber of Deputies, one of the country’s two houses of parliament, had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Two further lawmakers were in precautionary self-isolation, according to reports by the newspaper Il Messaggero and others.

All votes in the chamber had been suspended for the coming week, the reports said, citing lawmakers, though debates and committee meetings were to continue.

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