At least a month of new restrictions has been imposed across Italy to fight rising coronavirus infections which will see bars and restaurants shut early and cinemas, gyms and pools closed down.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has insisted people keep wearing masks outdoors alongside the 6pm curfew for bars, cafes and restaurants.

The new decree goes into effect from tomorrow (Monday) and lasts until November 24.

“Our aim is to protect health and the economy,” Mr Conte said today.

Get the latest updates from across Greater Manchester direct to your inbox with the free MEN newsletter

You can sign up very simply by following the instructions here

On Saturday, Italy passed 500,000 coronavirus cases since February, when it became the first country in Europe to be hardest hit by the pandemic.

Daily new cases have crept close to 20,000 in the last two days.

Tourists at the Colosseum in Rome during the pandemic

Restaurant and bar owners had lobbied hard against the new measures without success.

Most restaurants in Italy usually do not even begin to serve dinner before 8pm so the restriction seriously cuts into revenues.

Cafes and restaurants were allowed to reopen in recent months after the lockdown for outdoor dining or limited indoor seating.

Mr Conte promised financial aid from his centre-left government as soon as November to the food sector and noted cafes and restaurants can do delivery and takeaway orders until midnight.

No more than four diners will be allowed per restaurant table before the curfew unless they are from the same family.

Under the new rules, ski slopes are off-limits to all but competitive skiers and all spectators are banned from stadia during professional sports matches, including football.

Receptions after religious or civil wedding ceremonies are forbidden.

Residents must wear face masks outside at all times

The decree continues to exempt children younger than six and those exercising outdoors from wearing masks.

“We all have to do small sacrifices,” Mr Conte said.

“If we can’t go to the gym, we can exercise outdoors.”

The Prime Minister kept schools for younger children open but said 75 per cent of high school pupils must have remote classes.

Crowding on public transport, especially since schools reopened last month, has concerned health authorities.

By early summer, after Italy’s lockdown was all but lifted, new virus cases dropped to as low as 200 a day.

Temperature checks in Rome last month at a day care centre

“We did it then, we can do it now,” Mr Conte said, warning that without any vaccine available “it’s not like we’ll all be able to hug each other” during the holidays.

Several Italian regions and cities recently slapped on overnight curfews to cut down on young people congregating outdoors, especially to drink.

On Friday, demonstrators in Naples protesting a 11pm to 5am curfew clashed with police.

On Saturday night, far-right and neo-fascist political groups led a similar protest in Rome against its curfew.

Mr Conte said he understands the frustration of citizens, whose incomes and way of life are being heavily hit by pandemic limitations.

“I’d feel anger, too, towards the government,” he said, but said authorities had discovered protests had been fuelled by agitators.