Italian Government Takes New Steps in COVID-19 Fight

Luisa Zargani
·3 min read

MILAN – The Italian Stock Exchange held its ground on Monday morning, with the FTSE MIB index inching down 0.08 percent by early afternoon, following additional restrictions imposed by the government on Sunday evening.

The Italian government has set in motion a new wave of measures to tighten restrictions as COVID-19 cases flare up in a second wave here, with Italy recording its highest daily infection rate for the second day in a row on Sunday – another 11,705 new cases. This followed 10,925 cases registered a day earlier.

Italy has now recorded 414,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 36,500 deaths. The spike mirrors that being seen in other European countries including France, Germany and the U.K., as well as in the U.S.

On Sunday, the Italian government approved a new stimulus package of 39 billion euros to fuel an economic rebound in the wake of the recession caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Roberto Gualtieri, minister of economy, said this figure will include about 15 billion euros of grants from the European Union’s Recovery Fund.

“The main goal is to give a strong impulse to a relaunch of the economy supporting investments, education, social aid, reducing taxes on jobs and enterprises,” wrote Gualtieri on a Facebook post.

A fund of 4 billion euros will be used to compensate companies worst hit by the lockdowns and another 4 billion euros is aimed at helping the national health system.

A deferral of repayments for loans to small and medium-sized businesses has been extended to January.

Italy has forecast its economy will contract by 9 percent this year and a budget deficit amounting to 10.8 percent of gross domestic product. The government expects the economy to rebound in 2021, however, forecasting 6 percent growth.

On Sunday evening, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, wearing a mask, spoke on national television about efforts “to avoid a new general lockdown, which could severely compromise the economy.” Conte urged “everyone to do their part.”

For one, separately, Federico Marchetti, chairman and chief executiv e officer of the Yoox Net-a-porter Group, on Friday revealed on his Instagram account that the luxury e-tailer had extended full remote working where possible for all employees globally until the end of January. Marchetti took a big step in securing early seasonal flu vaccinations and providing all employees with the possibility to take a dose, in the wake of the shortages reported across the countries YNAP operates in.

In addition, the company has been employing a new innovative system of electronic bracelets that allows employees to maintain social distancing. It has also developed in-house the “Stay Safe” app. Through this, employees can reserve desks in the office and they receive all updates on safety in real time. These refer to the measures adopted in every office or warehouse, as well as any new measure implemented by the governments in each country.

Similarly to a number of luxury fashion groups, from Prada to Brunello Cucinelli, YNAP also provides COVID-19 tests for its employees and weekly masks to its employees and their families. The fashion industry, from Giorgio Armani and Bulgari to Gucci, Moncler and Ermenegildo Zegna, to name a few, has been responsive and proactive since the outbreak of the pandemic in Italy last February, investing in producing protective masks, medical overalls, and cleansing gels as well as donating funds to hospitals here.

Masks continue to be viewed as “the most effective measures,” said Conte on Sunday, as well as the other basic precautions – distance and washing hands regularly.

While no production has been halted for the time being, Conte said bars and restaurants will close at midnight, and that only table service at restaurants will be allowed after 6 p.m. Six will be the maximum number allowed in a group.

Local conferences and festivals are suspended and city mayors will have the power to close public areas after 9 p.m.

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