Italy launches new aid package for businesses, workers

The Italian government announced that it has issued a new decree to increase aid to families and businesses struck by the latest anti-coronavirus restrictions, which were imposed in the wake of a second wave of the pandemic.

On November 4, the government imposed a nationwide curfew, between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., as the pandemic surged in Italy, reports Xinhua news agency.

It also closed shopping malls on weekends and holidays, curtailed the operating hours of bars and restaurants to 5 a.m.-6 p.m., and shut down museums, theatres, concert venues, movie theaters, and betting venues.

The new decree “allocates further resources to support businesses and employees that are directly or indirectly affected by restrictions imposed” to contain the pandemic, the government said in a statement on Saturday.

The new measure builds on a 5.4-billion-euro aid package included in a previous October 28 decree, which was aimed at hard-hit businesses such as bars, restaurants, gyms and hotels, seasonal workers, and employees in the sports and entertainment sectors.

The new decree, which covers November and December, increases grants for businesses and employees, suspends taxes and social security contributions, provides a babysitting bonus to families in areas where elementary schools have been shut down, and increases funds for public transportation.

The government’s statement however, did not give an overall figure for the new aid package.

The new measure came as the Ministry of Health on Saturday reported 39,811 new infections in a 24-hour span in Italy, with 25,109 patients hospitalized and 2,634 in the ICU.

The country’s overall coronavirus caseload and the death toll currently stood at 902,490 and 41,063, respectively.