Italy closes down movie theatres as part of new restrictions to combat rising COVID-19 cases
Cinemas, live theatres, gaming halls, gyms in Italy will see closure, while bars and restaurants will have to suspend operations after 6 PM from 26 October. A night curfew has also been imposed.
Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, on Sunday, imposed at least a month of new restrictions across the country Sunday to fight rising coronavirus infections. These include shuttering of movie theatres
Worried about crippling Italy's stagnant economy, especially after 10 weeks of a severe lockdown earlier in the pandemic, Conte opted against another heavy nationwide lockdown. The new decree goes into effect Monday and lasts until 24 November.
Italy's exhibitors organisation ANEC protested the decision of closing cinemas, and in an open letter to the PM expressed their "disapproval" saying this decision will have a "devastating impact" on their businesses, reports Variety.
Besides cinemas, live theatres, gaming halls, gyms will see closure, while bars and restaurants will have to suspend operations after 6 PM. A night curfew has also been imposed. “Our aim is to protect health and the economy,” Conte said.
On 24 October, Italy surpassed a half million confirmed coronavirus cases since February, when it became the first country in Europe stricken by the pandemic. On Sunday, Italy registered 21,273 new confirmed cases and 128 deaths since the day before. Italy has reported a total of 37,338 virus deaths, Europe's second-highest pandemic death toll after Britain.
The country was among the first to bounce back from the devastation caused by the virus, even hosting a hybrid Venice Film Festival in September.
Theatres reopened in Italy on 15 June with social distancing rules in place. Variety notes that Italian cinemas have been struggling, partly because of a lack of big Hollywood films. Last weekend's top grossing Italian films were romantic drama Sul Più Bello, Gerard Butler's Greenland, and Pietro Castellitto's Venice prizewinner The Predators.
In their letter, ANEC said that if the imposition of closure is extended beyond 24 November, it will be "a death sentence for Italy’s entire exhibition sector." As the Christmas season approaches, the Italian industry was hoping to witness a revival in the business, which now may not happen due to the new restrictions.
(With inputs from The Associated Press)
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