Italy enters Christmas lockdown limiting holiday travel

Italy enters Christmas lockdown limiting holiday travel


ROME (AP) — Police in Italy enforced new COVID-19 travel restrictions aimed at limiting far-flung families from gathering over Christmas as public health officials appealed Thursday for people to use common sense to prevent new infections over the holidays.

A modified nationwide lockdown that took effect on Christmas Eve requires restrictions and closures similar to the 10 weeks of hard lockdown the Italian government imposed from March to May, when Italy became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe.

The country's fall wave of outbreaks has killed more people than the spring wave, according to official counts, and the aim of the new slowdown Dec. 24-Jan. 6 is to limit a January resurgence. On Wednesday, Italy's confirmed death toll in the pandemic passed 70,000, the highest in Europe. The number of confirmed cases was on track to pass 2 million on Thursday.

Italians lined up at bakeries, fish markets and grocery stores for items needed to prepare Christmas Eve dinners, even as government officials begged families to limit their “cenone” gatherings to no more than two people outside the main family unit. Christmas Eve meals are traditionally a multi-course, multi-generational affair that is a staple of Italian family life over the holidays.

“It seems banal and you can ask ‘Why only two people outside the nuclear family?’” acknowledged Dr. Giovanni Rezza, in charge of prevention at the Italian health ministry. “But it’s clearly based on probability calculations: The more you increase the size of the gathering, the more risk there is that one of these people, especially if he or she is coming from somewhere else, can be infected and therefore pose a risk to others.”

To reduce that possibility, the government barred residents starting Monday from travelling from region to region. Police...

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