In Italy, Like In every single place the Virus Goes, It’s the Discontent That’s Contagious

The restrictions were part of new measures that also closed cinemas, gyms, and theaters through November 24. The government also urged 75 percent of students to return to online learning and continued previous bans on large parties, including wedding receptions. But they are likely to be replaced with stricter measures every day, and the government has already weighed store closings and restricted movement.

Some critics of the government’s reaction came from within its own parliamentary majority.

“Better a total ban than half measures,” former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told Italian reporters last week. He argued that closing restaurants for dinner, but not lunch, made no sense and did nothing to curb infections, but rather increase unemployment.

The populist opposition has also supported the protests across the country. Matteo Salvini, leader of the Nationalist League party and a former mask skeptic, appeared in a mask to speak to chefs at the Pantheon protests, at which some onlookers mocked him.

Although Mr Salvini had previously expressed his skepticism about a second wave, he is now criticizing the government for hanging around on its laurels over the summer. The government should have bought more buses to reduce overcrowding and bid for more ambulances in May rather than October, he keeps saying. If the state of emergency was real, a full lockdown was in order, not a half-measure aimed at business.

Amid the political jostle, some regions have already exceeded national restrictions for fear that the virus will overwhelm their hospitals.

Campania, the southern region of Naples, which saw violent protests erupted last week, has banned movement across provincial lines, with the exception of labor, health or extenuating circumstances. It has also canceled kindergarten and mandated distance learning for students from elementary school to college. Other vulnerable southern regions, including Calabria and Sicily, have also taken tough measures.

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