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Coronavirus

Italy Tries to Prevent Large Family Gatherings

December 24, 2020

ROME — Police in Italy are out in force to implement new COVID-19 travel restrictions aimed at preventing far-flung families from gathering for Christmas as public health officials appeal for common sense to protect the elderly from infection.

Italy went into a modified nationwide lockdown Thursday for the Christmas and New Year period. Restrictions on personal movement and commercial activity mirror those during the 10 weeks of hard lockdown Italy imposed from March to May when the country became the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe.

Italy is on track Thursday to pass the 2 million mark in confirmed infections since the first domestic case was registered Feb. 20-21. On Wednesday, the country crossed another psychological threshold when its confirmed death toll passed 70,000, the highest in Europe.

Of particular concern is the traditional Christmas Eve dinner, usually a multi-course, multi-generational affair that is a staple of Italian family life over the holidays.

Italians on Thursday lined up at bakeries, fish markets and grocery stores for last-minute shopping to prepare their “cenone,” even as government officials appealed to families to limit gatherings to no more than two people outside the main family unit.

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