As the coronavirus continues to consume politicians’ time across the globe, both the UK and Italy are witnessing an increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. On October 11, Italy recorded 5,456 new cases, and the UK recorded 12,872 extra cases. The rising number of cases has been used as a pretext by politicians in both countries to justify a raft of new lockdown measures, ostensibly to prevent the virus’s further spread.
The logic behind these new restrictions remains questionable as the number of deaths in both nations is very small. The UK recorded 65 new COVID-19-related deaths on Sunday – all but one of the victims had an underlying health condition – while Italy recorded 26.
The UK is Developing a Localized Approach
One of the biggest new changes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday night is that of the “three-tier” lockdown system. The new system will see parts of the country where the virus is most prevalent put back into a more severe lockdown – closer to the situation experienced by the nation in March and April during the beginning of the pandemic.
The first tier will result in minimum restrictions such as a 10 p.m. curfew for bars and pubs, and a ban on gatherings of more than six people.
If the number of cases reaches more than 100 cases per 100,000 of the population, households will be banned from mixing indoors.
Tier three will be triggered if the first two tiers of measures have failed to contain the spread of the virus. This will result in the closure of social venues.
Italy Introduces Strict Nationwide Measures
Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced new restrictions such as banning private parties, involving both children and adults, and he will also target hours for bars and restaurants to reduce people’s contagion risks.
Unlike the British Government, Italian politicians are not implementing local lockdowns yet. Nonetheless, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza did not rule out that targeted local lockdowns could be imposed in the future, if critical situations arise.
Italy’s measure of targeted hours for bars and restaurants is very similar to the 10 p.m. curfew that has been introduced in the UK.
However, Italy’s policy of banning private parties goes one step further than Britain’s social distancing guidelines. UK citizens can technically still hold private parties in certain parts of the country, but only if they adhere to social distancing guidelines and stick to the rule of six, and this is despite the fact that Italy has fewer cases than the UK.
Italy’s Measures are Much Harsher than the UK’s
Regarding face masks, both the British and Italian governments have been equally harsh toward their citizens. Last Wednesday, Rome made it mandatory to wear face masks outdoors nationwide, which means that they introduced compulsory face coverings far later than their British counterparts did.
It is also equally clear that both governments are keen to avoid a national lockdown. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons last week that the UK Government wants more “consistent approaches to levels of local action, working with our colleagues in local government.”
Earlier on Sunday, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio ruled out another national lockdown, claiming that the Italian economy could not afford it.
On balance, it appears that Italy has introduced a stricter set of lockdown measures than the UK. While the British Government is aiming for a localized approach, Italy has brought in harsh national measures such as banning private parties.
Despite this, there are some similarities between the British and Italian governments’ policies, which includes compulsory outdoor face masks and targeted hours for pubs and restaurants. What is clear is that both governments are determined to avoid imposing national lockdowns upon their own citizens, but a bigger question remains: how long do both governments intend to retain these draconian measures before they realize how counterproductive lockdown policies are?