Migrants Jump From Rescue Boat In Bid To Reach Italy

A patrol boat of the Italian Coast Guards (Guardia Costiera) transports migrants towards the port of Palermo, Sicily, on September 17, 2020 after they rescued them at sea after a group of 76 migrants threw themselves into the sea from the rescue vessel of Spanish NGO Open Arms, off Palermo, Sicily.  (Photo by Alessandro FUCARINI / AFP)

 

Dozens of migrants jumped overboard from their rescue boat outside the Italian port of Palermo on Thursday, before being plucked from the waves by the coast guard.

Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish charity, said that 76 of the 276 migrants it had saved in the Mediterranean in its latest mission “threw themselves in the water in an attempt to reach the coast”.

“They are all safe, after being recovered by the Italian coast guard. Some 188 people remain on board, including women and children, two of whom are small,” it said in a statement.

The charity appealed to the Italian authorities to allow the remaining migrants to disembark.

The Open Arms ship has been waiting outside the Palermo port since yesterday, when it warned of a “critical situation” among the migrants, who were rescued in three operations between September 8-10 off the coasts of Malta and Libya.

AFP

Millions Return To School In Italy After COVID-19 Closure

Pupils wait behing floors markers prior to enter the Luigi Einaudi technical high school in Rome on September 14, 2020 for the start of the school year, during the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. – Schools in some European nations were set to open on September 14, 2020 with millions returning to classrooms in Italy, Greece and Romania. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

 

Millions of Italian children returned to the classroom on Monday as most schools reopened more than six months after they were closed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Although some Italian schools opened earlier this month, roughly 5.6 million students from a total of eight million went back to school on Monday, confronting a new reality of restrictions.

Italy was one of the first in Europe to be hit by the pandemic, which has now officially killed over 35,500 people out of a total of 280,000 cases.

Premier Giuseppe Conte admitted on Sunday that Italian schools faced a difficult situation, including a lack of teachers, single-seat benches and surgical masks.

“There will be difficulties and inconveniences, especially in the beginning,” Conte wrote on Facebook.

He also saluted teachers, who he said had “made an extraordinary effort in the months of confinement to continue lessons and distant learning”.

“We are grateful to you,” he said.

With the country registering more than 1,500 infections a day, Conte also had particular words for youngsters.

“You have to do your part. You have to commit yourselves to the rules of caution that will allow you to protect your health and the health of the people you love,” he said.

Italian Education Minister Lucia Azzolina said more than 5,000 extra classrooms had been created to give pupils more space.

Nevertheless, some southern regions like Puglia and Calabria already postponed the reopening until September 24, over concerns they were not ready to meet all the new requirements.

Italian officials said the back-to-school strategy involved immediate quarantine of those “in close contact” with a student or teacher testing positive.

After a positive result, pupils will be allowed back to school only after returning two negatives, carried out a day apart.

AFP

18 Films Chasing Top Prize At Venice Film Festival

Azerbaijani director Hilal Baydarov, Azerbaijani actress Rana Asgarova and Azerbaijani actor Orkhan Iskandarli attend a photocall for the film “Sepelenmis olumler arasinda” presented in competition on the tenth day of the 77th Venice Film Festival, on September 11, 2020 at Venice Lido.  Tiziana FABI / AFP

 

The Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice film festival that wraps up Saturday, will be awarded to one film among 18 contenders from across the globe.

Here are the films in the running:

‘Le Sorelle Macaluso’ (The Macaluso Sisters): Italy

The story of five sisters in Palermo seen at various points in their lives and culminating in a family funeral in Emma Dante’s film.

 ‘The World to Come’: US 

In Mona Fastwold’s upstate 19th century New York, Abigail (Katherine Waterston) tends a farm with her husband (Casey Affleck) but falls in love with a female neighbour.

 ‘Nuevo Orden’ (New Order): Mexico/France 

A dystopian film from Michel Franco depicts social and economic disparity in Mexico, starting with a well-to-do family wedding and ending in a coup d’etat.

 ‘Amants’ (Lovers): France 

Nicole Garcia’s film tells the story of Lisa and Simon, lovers who paths cross again three years after Simon fled Paris.

 ‘Laila in Haifa’: Israel/France 

Five women’s stories interweave in the course of one night at a Haifa club. As one of the few spaces where Israelis and Palestinians can mingle, director Amos Gitai turns the venue itself into a protagonist.

 ‘Dorogie Tovarischi!’ (Dear Comrades!): Russia 

Based on the true story of a 1962 labour strike in Novocherkassk, USSR, in which 26 protesters were shot by Soviet troops. Andrei Konchalosky’s film retells events kept secret until the 1990s.

 ‘Spy No Tsuma’ (Wife of a Spy): Japan 

Against the backdrop of a looming World War II and the invasion of Manchuria, a wife’s love is tested and her Kobe merchant husband struggles with loyalty and betrayal in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s film.

 ‘Khorshid’ (Sun Children): Iran 

Ali and his friends work small jobs and hustle to support their families. Majid Majidi’s film explores what happens when Ali learns of an underground treasure.

‘Pieces of a Woman’: Canada/Hungary 

Martha and Sean (Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf) are a Boston couple whose baby dies after a home birth. Director Kornel Mundruczo shows how grieving Martha navigates her relationships with her husband and mother (Ellen Burstyn), while facing the midwife (Molly Parker) in court.

 ‘Miss Marx’: Italy/Belgium 

Susanna Nicchiarelli tells the story of Eleanor, the youngest daughter of Karl Marx, who battled for the rights of workers and women while dealing with an unhappy love affair.

‘Padrenostro’: Italy 

The life of 10-year-old Valerio is turned upside down when he and his mother witness a terrorist attack against his father in this autobiographical film from director Claudio Noce.

 ‘Notturno’: Italy/France/Germany 

Shot over three years on the borders of Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon, Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary follows people trying to survive despite the violence around them.

 ‘Sniegu Juz Nigby Nie Bedzie’ (Never Gonna Snow Again): Poland/Germany 

A mysterious masseur from Ukraine, Zhenia becomes a guru for a spiritually barren gated community in this film by Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert.

 ‘The Disciple’: India 

Director Chaitanya Tamhane tells the story of Sharad, chasing his dream of becoming an Indian classical vocalist in the sprawling metropolis of Mumbai.

‘Und Morgen die Ganze Welt’ (And Tomorrow the Entire World): Germany/France 

In Julia von Heinz’s film, Luisa and her anti-fascist group question how far they’re willing to go to battle hatred after a wave of racist attacks in Germany.

 ‘Quo vadis, Aida?’: Bosnia-Herzegovina 

Based on true events in 1995 Srebrenica. Aida is a translator working for United Nations peacekeepers. When the Bosnian Serb army invades, she and thousands of others seek safety in the Dutch UN camp in Jasmila Zbanic’s film.

 ‘Nomadland’: US 

Director Chloe Zhao tells the story of Fern (Frances McDormand), who sets off from her impoverished Nevada town in her van to scratch out a living as a modern-day nomad.

 ‘In Between Dying’: Azerbaijan/US 

Davud is a restless young man on a journey of self-discovery through Hilal Baydarov’s film, keeping ahead of men pursuing him. When his journey ends at home, Davud finds the love he’s seeking — but is it too late?

AFP

Italy’s Berlusconi ‘Strong Immune Response’ To Virus

File photo: Former Italian prime minister and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi, 82, was hospitalised in Milan on April 30, 2019, reportedly with kidney stone pain. / AFP

 

Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi “showed a strong immune response” and appeared to be improving after being hospitalised last week with coronavirus, his doctor said Monday.

The 83-year-old media tycoon is being treated for a lung infection at San Raffaele hospital in Milan where he was admitted on Thursday night.

“The overall clinical picture appears to be improving and is consistent… with the resumption of a robust specific immune response,” his doctor Alberto Zangrillo said.

Berlusconi tested positive for Covid-19 last week after returning from a holiday at his luxury villa in Sardinia.

Two of his children — daughter Barbara, 36, and son Luigi, 31 — have also contracted the virus, as has his companion Marta Fascina.

Following a check-up on Thursday evening at Berlusconi’s home, Zangrillo insisted that the former PM go to the hospital the same night.

On Friday, the doctor said the billionaire was “a patient at risk because of his age and previous illnesses”, including open-heart surgery.

Zangrillo said Berlusconi had a lung infection that had been diagnosed early but that he was not on a ventilator.

Berlusconi had insisted on Wednesday that he would continue his political activities despite the positive test.

Regional elections are to be held in Italy in two weeks as well as a referendum on reducing the number of deputies in parliament.

AFP

Italy Plunges Into Recession As COVID-19 Bites

People shop at the outdoor market and walk about in central Rome on May 9, 2020, during the country’s partial lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Tiziana FABI / AFP.

 

Italy posted a record economic contraction Monday as household spending and investment crashed during the country’s coronavirus lockdown, driving the eurozone’s third-largest economy deep into recession.

The country’s gross domestic product fell by 12.8 percent in the second quarter compared to the previous quarter and by 17.7 percent versus the same period last year, national statistics agency Istat said.

“The full estimate of the quarterly economic figures confirm the exceptional extent of the drop in GDP in the second quarter, due to the economic effects of the health emergency and the containment measures adopted,” Istat said.

The contraction was even worse than predicted in July, when Istat estimated a second-quarter drop of 12.4 percent.

A recession is commonly defined as two consecutive periods of a quarter-on-quarter drop in GDP.

Italy’s economy shrunk 5.4 percent in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, household spending fell by 11.3 percent compared to the first quarter, while exports plummeted 26.4 percent, the agency said.

Italy, the first European country to be hit full force by the coronavirus outbreak, went into total lockdown in early March as Covid-19 tightened its grip on the country.

The peninsula is set to suffer its worst recession since World War II this year, with experts estimating GDP to plummet between 8.0 to 14 percent.

The eurozone economy is predicted to contract by a record 8.7 percent this year, with mass unemployment and other dire consequences still very much a possibility.

AFP

Boat Carrying Nearly 370 Migrants Reaches Italy’s Lampedusa

Rescued migrants are being transfered at the commercial port of Lampedusa on August 29, 2020 from the Coast Guard patrol boat “CP-1319”, which transhipped them from the civilian rescue boat “Louise Michel” 50 miles southeast of the Italian pelagic island. – An Italian coastguard vessel came to the rescue on August 29, 2020 of rescue vessel “Louise Michel” funded by British street artist Banksy, which sent out a distress signal on with more than 200 migrants onboard.  Mauro Seminara / AFP.

 

A fishing boat carrying nearly 370 migrants landed overnight on the Italian island of Lampedusa, the country’s news agencies reported on Sunday, as a nearby humanitarian ship carrying another 350 people sought a port of disembarkation.

Italy has been struggling in recent months to deal with daily arrivals of hundreds of migrants to its southern shores, a task complicated by security measures imposed by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The boat carrying 367 people, which was in danger of sinking due to high winds, was escorted by the Italian coast guard and police to the island’s port, ANSA news agency said.

They were met at the port by a demonstration organised by the far-right, anti-immigrant League party.

The migrants, whose nationalities were not known, underwent temperature checks before they were taken to an emergency reception centre on the island which now houses some 1,160 people, 10 times its maximum capacity, Lampedusa’s mayor, Toto Martello, told ANSA.

About 30 other small boats, mostly from the Tunisian coast, had already reached the island since Friday carrying some 500 migrants, the Italian press reported.

“Lampedusa can no longer cope with this situation. Either the government takes immediate decisions or the whole island will go on strike. We can’t manage the emergency and the situation is now really unsustainable,” Martello told ANSA.

Nello Musumeci, the right-leaning leader of sister island Sicily, on Sunday wrote on Facebook that he would ask the government for a meeting on the “humanitarian and health crisis”.

“Lampedusa can’t do it anymore. Sicily cannot continue to pay for the indifference of Brussels and the silence of Rome,” he wrote.

– ‘Traumatic injuries’ –

The Italian coast guard on Saturday also transported 49 people who had been rescued in the Mediterranean by the MV Louise Michel, a vessel funded by the street artist Banksy.

The 150 other passengers on that ship were transferred late Saturday to the humanitarian rescue boat Sea-Watch 4, which now has some 350 people on board and is looking for a port of disembarkation.

Migrants are being transfered at the commercial port of Lampedusa on August 29, 2020 from the Coast Guard patrol boat “CP-1319”, which transhipped them from the civilian rescue boat “Louise Michel” 50 miles southeast of the Italian pelagic island. – An Italian coastguard vessel came to the rescue on August 29, 2020 of rescue vessel “Louise Michel” funded by British street artist Banksy, which sent out a distress signal on with more than 200 migrants onboard. Mauro Seminara / AFP.

 

The crew of the vessel chartered by German NGO Sea Watch and medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) wrote on Twitter that it was treating people for “fuel burns, dehydration, hypothermia & traumatic injuries”.

The German-flagged Louise Michel had said it needed aid after helping a boat carrying at least one dead migrant in the sea that divides Africa and Europe.

Its crew said the 31-metre (101-foot) ship had become overcrowded and unable to move, warning that some of the migrants had fuel burns and had been at sea for days.

The rescued migrants later said three people had died at sea before the arrival of the Louise Michel.

Banksy, who keeps his identity a secret, explained in an online video that he had bought the boat to help migrants “because EU authorities deliberately ignore distress calls from non-Europeans”.

Thousands of people are thought to have died making the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean to flee conflict, repression and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, attempts by migrant boats to cross the Mediterranean into Europe have increased this year, up 91 percent from January to July over last year’s figures, to more than 14,000 people.

AFP

Ibrahimovic Agrees To Play Another Season At AC Milan For 7m Euros

File photo: AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring his team’s fourth goal during the Italian Cup ((Coppa Italia) round of 8 football match between AC Milan and Torino on January 28, 2020, at the San Siro stadium in Milan. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will remain at AC Milan next season having reached agreement on a new deal reportedly worth 7 million euros ($8.3m) without bonuses, according to multiple reports in Italy on Friday.

Ibrahimovic, who turns 39 years in October, on Friday posted a photo of himself on social media wearing an AC Milan jersey with the number 11 written over the 21, and his arms wide: “As I said, I’m just warming up.”

The Swedish forward also posted a photo showing him lying relaxing with the caption “The quiet before the storm.”

Gazzetta Dello Sport reported that Ibrahimovic was expected back in Milan ahead of the new season on August 29, the same day he first joined the club back in 2010.

Ibrahimovic rejoined Milan in January on a six-month contract after leaving Los Angeles Galaxy, on a deal worth 3.5 million euros ($3.9 million) with the option for an additional season.

The former Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona player had a big impact, scoring 11 goals in 20 games.

“I think that we can all see that Ibra has played an important part in our season and our growth,” AC Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis said this week.

“We are doing everything we can to see that this can continue.”

The former seven-time European champions moved up from 11th on his arrival to sixth, finishing the league season on a 12-game unbeaten run.

Ibrahimovic helped AC Milan to the last of their 18 Serie A titles in 2011.

He also won three league titles with Inter Milan and two with Juventus which were both revoked because of the ‘Calciopoli’ match-fixing scandal.

The Italian season kicks off again on September 19.

AFP

Greece, Cyprus, Italy, France To Hold Military Exercises From Wednesday

A handout photo released by the Greek National Defence Ministry on August 26, 2020 shows military personnel of the Hellenic Navy during a military exercise in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, on August 25, 2020. Handout / GREEK DEFENCE MINISTRY / AFP.

 

Greece said it will launch military exercises Wednesday with France, Italy and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, the focus of escalating tensions between Athens and Ankara.

The joint exercises south of Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete will last three days, the defence ministry said.

The discovery of major gas deposits in waters surrounding Crete and Cyprus has triggered a scramble for energy riches and revived old rivalries between NATO members Greece and Turkey.

Tensions ratched up another notch when Turkey sent the Oruc Reis research vessel accompanied by warships to disputed waters on August 10.

“Cyprus, Greece, France and Italy have agreed to deploy a joint presence in the eastern Mediterranean as part of the quadripartite cooperation initiative,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

“The tensions and instability in the eastern Mediterranean have heightened disputes on issues concerning maritime space.”

Turkey said on Tuesday it is ready for talks with Greece without preconditions over the row.

The olive branch came ahead of an informal EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Berlin on Thursday and Friday at which Greece is expected to press the bloc to slap biting sanctions on its historic regional rival.

But EU nations would prefer to avoid irritating Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas shuttled between Athens and Ankara in a bid to temper the rhetoric and get talks back on track.

Maas, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told the two countries to defuse the row or risk sparking a “catastrophe”.

AFP

First Volunteer Receives Italian Anti-COVID-19 Vaccine

 

An Italian hospital said on Monday it had inoculated a first volunteer with an anti-COVID-19 vaccine as part of human trials expected to last six months.

The woman, in her 50s, received the first dose developed by Rome-based biotech company ReiThera at the capital’s Spallanzani Institute for infectious diseases.

The trials, developed between ReiThera and Spallanzani researchers, will be carried out on 90 volunteers divided into groups by age to test the efficacy of different dosages of the vaccine, developed since March.

If the first results of Phase 1 of the human trials prove positive, researchers say they will be able to proceed to phases 2 and 3 by the end of the year, on a larger number of volunteers even outside of Italy.

The vaccine has already passed pre-clinical tests on animal models.

“It will take at least 24 weeks to complete phase I human trials of the vaccine,” said Giuseppe Ippolito, the institute’s scientific director.

Countries are racing to develop their own vaccines against the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 800,000 people around the globe.

“Having an Italian vaccine means not being slaves and servants of other countries that will say ‘Me first’,” said Ippolito, who said he hoped the vaccine would be ready for use by spring 2021.

ReiThera is a subsidiary of Swiss company Keires.

AFP

Italy Sees Rise In COVID-19 Cases

People wearing a face mask walk along the Via del Corso main shopping street on August 20, 2020 in Rome during the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Vincenzo PINTO / AFP
People wearing a face mask walk along the Via del Corso main shopping street on August 20, 2020 in Rome during the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

 

Italy recorded more than 1,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, the worst daily figure since lockdown was lifted in May, the health ministry reported on Saturday.

Officials in Rome said the capital region recorded 215 new coronavirus infections in the same period mainly because of people returning from holiday, the biggest such rise since lockdown in March.

The health ministry said Italy recorded 1,071 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the last day and three deaths, for the first time crossing the threshold of 1,000 infections since May 12.

It marks a relentless uptick in cases in the last few days, from 947 on Friday, 845 on Thursday and 642 on Wednesday.

The figure of 215 for Rome is a record, more than the 208 people were  infected in a one-day period on March 28, when Rome had come to a virtual standstill to stop the coronavirus spreading, the capital’s health official Alessio D’Amato said.

“Sixty-one percent (of the cases) are linked to people returning from vacation,” D’Amato said, almost half the cases were returning from the island of Sardinia.

Sardinia had been spared the first wave earlier this year but D’Amato said the movement of tourists and people partying had helped spread the virus.

Francesco Vaia, director of Rome’s  Spallanzani Hospital specialising in infectious diseases, told Italian media “the solution is to do tests on departing boats, planes and trains. This is the only way to prevent the virus spreading”.

D’Amato said most of those infected were young people who were not showing symptoms and it was urgent to “block the chain of transmission as fast as possible by finding the asymptomatic and averting the spread of the virus among families.

“Be very careful especially with your relatives and the people dearest to you,” he said in an appeal to the young.

He warned them to stay at home and not meet up with people while awaiting test results. “Don’t feel invincible,” he urged them.

Italy — particularly the northern Lombardy region, the Venice area and Rome — are seeing a resurgence in the virus over the summer.

The Italian government has taken several steps to block the spread, such as closing nightclubs since August 17 and making mask wearing compulsory in busy public spaces between 6 pm and 6 am.

Since the pandemic erupted, Italy has recorded more than 257,000 cases, including more than 35,000 dead.

 

AFP

Italy To Present COVID-19 Recovery Plan To EU By Mid-October – PM

This photo taken and handout on April 23, 2020 by the Palazzo Chigi Press Office in Rome shows Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte taking part from his office at Palazzo Chigi in Rome to a videoconference of EU leaders on the virus economic impact, during the country’s lockdown. Handout / Palazzo Chigi press office / AFP.

 

Italy will present its proposals for confronting the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic to the EU in mid-October, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in an interview published on Wednesday.

On July 21, European Union leaders reached a historic agreement on a 750-billion-euro ($900-billion) coronavirus recovery plan, financed for the first time by joint debt.

Countries benefitting from the programme, including Italy which will receive 209 billion euros, must present their national recovery plans to Brussels, focussing on the EU Commission’s priorities of ecological and digital transition, as well as improved competitiveness.

“Our intention is to submit our recovery plan in mid-October,” Conti told the daily Il Fatto Quotidiano.

“We’re currently working on a selection of proposals that respond directly to the criteria of European funding that entail investment and structural reforms to make the country more competitive and robust,” Conte told the daily Il Fatto Quotidiano.

“We will pay great attention to material and immaterial infrastructure and aim to invest in schools, universities and research. We will also use the opportunity to improve the efficiency of public administration and justice,” Conte said.

AFP

Discos In Italy Sow Discord As Partygoers Dance, Dance, Dance

An airport cleaning staff, wearing a respiratory mask (C), controls baskets at Rome's Fiumicino international airport March 13, 2020. - Rome's Ciampino airport will shut to passenger flights from March 13, authorities said, with a Terminal T1 also closing at the city's main Fiumicino facility next week as airlines slash flights to Italy over the coronavirus outbreak. Andreas SOLARO / AFP.
An airport cleaning staff, wearing a respiratory mask (C), controls baskets at Rome’s Fiumicino international airport March 13, 2020.. Andreas SOLARO / AFP.

 

 

 

“Put your masks on!” repeats the DJ, shouting vainly into his microphone, but the dancers below, dripping in sweat, don’t seem to care.

On a recent night at the Kiki nightclub in Ostia, a popular seaside resort on the outskirts of Rome, the coronavirus threat seems both distant and yet very present.

During a night for over-50s at this open-air disco on Ostia’s beachfront, the rules are well known: a mask is mandatory, and dancing must be done at least one metre from a partner.

“Who cares about all that,” laughed one partygoer, Claudio, his belly jutting forward and shirt wide open. With his mask in his pocket, he boogies alone, not to respect social distancing but because his friends are chatting elsewhere.

Around him, the approximately 200 to 300 party-goers dance to the blaring electro music, many without masks as they flirt, laugh and drink gin and tonics in the heat.

It takes the weary insistence of the staff, the calls of the DJ and a rumour of a possible police raid to get the crowd to comply begrudgingly and cover their faces.

– Party pooper –
While the threat of a second wave of coronavirus looms nearer in several European countries, such as Spain, Italy is trying to stem new infections in the middle of “Ferragosto”, the sacrosanct holiday weekend of August 15.

On Sunday, after a period of arm wrestling between the government and regions over the thorny issue of discos, Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed a decree suspending their operation.

The new rules go into effect on Monday, giving partygoers one last weekend night to celebrate.

Closed establishments had already been prohibited from operating but regions had the discretion to decide whether or not to allow open-air clubs.

Calabria, for one, had ordered the closure of all dance venues while Sardinia had kept them open. Some, like Veneto to the north, mandated reduced occupancy.

Already, traditional rites of summer have been altered. Bonfires on the beach and a traditional midnight jump into the sea at Ferragosto were banned this year.

The topic was politically sensitive, as authorities don’t want to appear to be punishing Italians during well-deserved summer holidays after a gruelling lockdown that was largely respected.

The sector employs nearly 50,000 people in 3,000 nightclubs around the country, according to the nightclub operators’ union (SILB).

– Wild and free? –
Images of crowds of young holiday-goers dancing and drinking at night have been plastered on the front pages of Italian newspapers.

“The contagion is on the rise but we’re dancing,” proclaimed the Corriere Della Sera, which slammed Sardinia’s clubs as being “joyful contagion machines”.

At the establishment Manila Beach in Fregene, on the coast outside Rome, party organiser Gianluca Skiki said his venue, which normally welcomes up to 2,000 customers on its beach, had to make do with 250.

Despite some semblances of a nightclub — a DJ, sequined miniskirts and high heels worn by some — the experience appeared odd. Couples were sitting at tables with distance between them to eat, and were instructed to dance only in front of their tables.

“If the police come, everyone has to be at their table,” Skiki explained. “There’s no real nightclub here any more, it’s about the only thing we’re allowed to organise.”

He acknowledged the experience fell short of the carefree, wild parties of the past.

AFP