Italy brings in strict ‘semi-lockdown’ with 6pm curfew on bars and restaurants after Covid deaths triple

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ITALY has introduced a strict “semi- lockdown” after Covid deaths tripled in a month and new cases topped 20,000 yesterday.

For the next four weeks, restaurants and bars must close at 6pm and will only be able to offer takeaways.

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Bars and restaurants in Italy will now have to close at 6pm

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Bars and restaurants in Italy will now have to close at 6pmCredit: AP:Associated Press

PM Giuseppe Conte hopes the new measures will mean a 'normal Christmas' is possible

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PM Giuseppe Conte hopes the new measures will mean a 'normal Christmas' is possibleCredit: Getty

Theatres, gyms and beauty salons will be barred from opening and secondary schools will have to offer 75 per cent of teaching online.

Local authorities will also be given powers to close city squares after 9pm if they feel crowds are too big.

PM Giuseppe Conte had said he wanted to avoid another blanket lockdown and promised to speed up government help for businesses impacted by the pandemic.

Now he hopes that by introducing the new measures a “normal Christmas” will be possible.

Yesterday, Italy reported a further 128 deaths and 21,273 new cases.

The restrictions come after protesters clashed with riot police in Rome early yesterday morning.

Disturbing images showed around 200 masked militants throwing flares and firecrackers at cops amid the country's worst post-war recession.

The violent scenes, which erupted just after midnight, followed another anti-curfew protest in Naples on Friday night in which hundreds of people set bins on fire and threw projectiles at police.

The 'semi-lockdown' was brought in after mass anti-curfew riots took place around the country

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The 'semi-lockdown' was brought in after mass anti-curfew riots took place around the countryCredit: EPA

Demonstrators could be seen waving the Italian flag as the infection rate soared

Demonstrators could be seen waving the Italian flag as the infection rate soared

Activists lit rubbish bins on fire as Italy tightened restrictions across the country

Activists lit rubbish bins on fire as Italy tightened restrictions across the country

The unrest erupted around midnight in protest of a new curfew in the capital

The unrest erupted around midnight in protest of a new curfew in the capital

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Seven were arrested and two officers were reportedly injured during the unrest in Rome.

Calls were issued on social media for Rome to follow Naples' example in challenging the curfew, which in Rome ran from midnight to 5am.

Protesters in the capital's central Piazza del Popolo square waited until one minute before midnight to set off fireworks in the colours of the Italian flag, don balaclavas and throw flares at police.

Giuliano Castellino, leader of militant group Forza Nuova, said: "We refuse to accept that the virus is around one minute before midnight and the next minute no."

Italy was the first European country to be badly hit by the virus and has now registered over 500,000 cases and more than 37,000 deaths, according to health ministry figures.

The latest protests there cap a week of similar demonstrations against government restrictions in several parts of Europe, including Spain, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

The continent has seen a spike in new infections and taken a raft of new containment measures, mostly trying to avoid new nationwide lockdowns -- from night-time curfews to more restrictions on social gatherings.

After Germany recorded its 10,000th coronavirus death on Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "The order of the day is to reduce contacts, (and) to meet as few people as possible."

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Demonstrators battled with anti-riot police

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Demonstrators battled with anti-riot policeCredit: AFP or licensors

Far-right protestors clash with police in Rome during demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions

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