Italy extends coronavirus state of emergency

Guests wearing face masks wait as they arrive before a concert at the Arena in Verona, northern Italy, on July 25, 2020. - This is the first show with new dispositions against the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) during this season. (AFP)

's parliament on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to extend the country's state of emergency until October 15, allowing the government more flexibility to fight the lingering pandemic.

The state of emergency serves primarily to cut red tape and accelerate decision-making for the government when faced with disasters such as earthquakes, floods and other catastrophes.

Italy was the first European country to be hit by the coronavirus crisis and a more than two-month dealt a severe blow the economy.

The decree had been set to expire on July 31.

Italy's Senate on Tuesday night gave its approval to extend the state of emergency, followed by the chamber of deputies on Wednesday, which voted 286 to 221 for the measure, with five abstentions.

"Unfortunately, the pandemic today is not fully over, even though its effects are more contained and geographically limited," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Wednesday, assuring MPs that the extension did not necessarily mean new lockdowns.

More then 35,000 people have died due to coronavirus in Italy, which has seen more than 246,000 infections.

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