ROME, ITALY – Italy’s government said Monday it had approved a new stimulus package to shore up businesses affected by the latest round of anti-coronavirus restrictions in the eurozone’s third-largest economy.
The aid package, the fourth since the pandemic gripped the country in March, is worth eight billion euros ($9.6 billion) and delays tax deadlines for companies in areas subject to harsh lockdown measures.
It also offers a 1,000-euro lump sum to workers in tourism, the arts, sports and leisure — as well as setting aside funds for the conventions sector and a boosted police presence to ensure anti-coronavirus measures are respected.
Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the virus. A punishing lockdown of all its 60 million residents brought the first outbreak under control but, as elsewhere, the number of cases has risen sharply in recent months.
Rome has sought to avoid another lockdown after the first crippled the economy, focusing instead on regional restrictions alongside a nationwide night-time curfew.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was set to meet with the heads of the country’s 20 regions later Monday to work out Italy’s plan for the holidays, with health experts warning too much Christmas cheer would spark a third wave.
“We are a long way off crying victory,” deputy health minister Pierpaolo Sileri said.
He said the number of people meeting to dine together would likely be limited to six — “and by that I don’t mean six different people at every meal”, he warned those looking for loopholes in mince-pie and eggnog guidelines.
The health ministry reported some 20,000 new cases Sunday and 541 deaths, bringing the cumulative toll to nearly 55,000.
Read more articles here.