ROME – Italy will extend its coronavirus state of emergency until Oct 15, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced in the Italian Senate Tuesday.

The current state of emergency is set to expire on Friday.

“Although the curve of the contagion and the impact [of the coronavirus] on the national health service has reduced significantly, something that encourages us, the data tell us that the virus continues to circulate in our country,” Conte said.

The state of emergency gives government officials temporary power to act quickly to tamp down new coronavirus outbreaks and allocate funding, all through the use of emergency decrees. It also includes specific travel restrictions, and requirements for social distancing and mask-wearing.

Conte said the extension will assure that the government can “remain on guard and ready to intervene quickly if the situation worsens.”

But the extension of the state of emergency does not necessarily mean the specific rules of the current state of emergency will be extended. The terms for the new period will be negotiated by members of the Council of Ministers.

Italy was the first European country hit hard by the coronavirus. Though infection rates and the death toll have improved dramatically in recent weeks, Italy has suffered more than 35,000 deaths, while official figures show nearly 250,000 people have been infected by the outbreak, with nearly 200,000 of them recovered.

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