Italy has introduced a raft of new measures against coronavirus, closing all bars and restaurants from early evening. The response follows a surge in cases.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Sunday signed a package of measures in reaction to a surging second wave of COVID-19 cases.
The decree means that all bars and restaurants must close by 6 p.m. local time (1700 UTC/GMT). The new rules also mean that cinemas, theaters, gyms, pools and concert halls will have to close.
Conte said the pandemic had reached "worrying levels" and that tough measures were needed to "manage it without being overwhelmed."
Trade fairs and conferences will also be canceled and a total ban on fans in soccer stadiums has been reintroduced.
As part of the measures, there will be a switch to online lessons for at least 75% of high school students, along with a strong recommendation to avoid non-essential travel and having guests at home.
The rules apply from Monday and last until November 24.
"In November we expect we will be suffering a bit but, if we bite the bullet and face these restrictions, we may be able to relax a bit in December," said Conte.
However, the prime minister said he could not promise a return to normality by the end of the year.
"The aim is clear: to keep the contagion curve under control, because that is the only way can we manage the pandemic without being overwhelmed by it."
"We can't expect to be all hugging each other and all having parties at Christmas," he warned.
A weekly report from Italy's National Health Institute on Friday said the current trends warranted a "drastic reduction in physical interactions between people" and "restrictions on mobility."
Although the county's health system is far less stretched than it was in March and April, hospitalization numbers are rising fast. Intensive care cases have tripled in the past fortnight.
Conte has also pledged tax breaks and credits, subsidies and additional furlough measures for all affected workers and businesses, in a policy move to be adopted by Tuesday at the latest.
The country was the first in Europe to be particularly hard hit by the virus, but it initially appeared to be keeping a second-wave surge at bay.
rc/mm (AFP, AP, dpa)