In Italy, Like Everywhere the Virus Goes, It’s the Discontent That’s Contagious

The restrictions were part of new measures that also closed cinemas, gyms and theaters until Nov. 24. The government also required 75 percent of high school students to return to online learning, and continued earlier bans on large parties, including wedding receptions. But they seem likely to be replaced any day with stricter measures and the government was already weighing closing stores and limiting movement.

Some critics of the government’s response have come from within its own parliamentary majority.

“Better a total lockdown than these half measures,” former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told Italian reporters last week. He argued that closing restaurants for dinner but not lunch made no sense, and did nothing to limit infections, but increased unemployment.

The populist opposition also has supported the protests around the country. Matteo Salvini, the leader of the nationalist League party and former mask skeptic, showed up in a mask to talk to chefs at the Pantheon protests, where some onlookers jeered him.

Despite previously expressing skepticism about a second wave, Mr. Salvini now criticizes the government for dallying on its laurels over the summer. The government should have procured more buses to alleviate overcrowding and issued tenders for more ambulances in May, not October, he says constantly. If the state of emergency were real, then a total lockdown, not a half measure that targeted business, was in order.

Amid the political jostling, some regions have already gone beyond the national restrictions in fear of the virus overwhelming their hospitals.

Campania, the southern region that is home to Naples, where violent protests broke out last week, has banned movement across provincial lines except for work, health or extenuating circumstances. It has also canceled nursery school and mandated remote learning for students from elementary school to college. Other vulnerable southern regions, including Calabria and Sicily, have also adopted strict measures.

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