The country prepares to lock down as it suffers a record number of deaths from COVID-19.
The Italian government is banning midnight Christmas Mass and limiting travel between regions to prevent a possible “third surge” of the coronavirus.
Italy has lost almost 60,000 people to COVID-19. It was the first country after China to have been crippled by the the global pandemic. On December 3 Italy lost 993 people to the infection, a 21% increase in deaths over 14 days ago.
Junior Health Minister Sandra Zampa said Christmas Eve Mass must end by 8:30 p.m., so that people can comply with a 10 p.m. curfew. She also said that Christmas celebrations should be limited to family members.
Travel between regions will also be limited as it was during the first wave of the pandemic.
“From Dec. 20, people will only be able to travel outside their own region for emergencies such as to care for a single parent,” Reuters reporter her as saying in an interview with private television channel La7.
The Italian Church has publicly stated it supports these measures to enforce social distancing in the interest of public health.
The Italian Bishop’s Conference (CEI) Vice President Msgr. Mario Meini said that Christmas Masses “will take place in the full respect of the norms,” according to an ANSA report.
He said that compliance with the measures would be a continued “sign of solidarity for all.”