Rome (AFP) – Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday refused to bow to business pressure and extended the Mediterranean country’s economically-crippling lockdown until May 3.
Conte made the announcement after Italy’s official COVID-19 toll climbed by another 570 fatalities to 18,849 — more than any other country — but with the growth rate now just a fraction of what it was a few weeks ago.
Media reports said business unions from regions responsible for 45 percent of Italy’s production — and 80 percent of its coronavirus deaths — had written to Conte warning that companies will be unable to pay wages if the shutdown runs on.
But Conte said Italy could not afford another spike in infections and needed to exercise extra caution in the face of the new disease.
“We are all, I imagine, impatient to get going again,” Conte said in a televised address.
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