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Italy mayors given power to shut down public squares from 9 p.m. to curb virus

MILAN, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte gave mayors the power to shut public squares from 9 p.m. to halt gatherings as he unveiled a further package of measures on Sunday to try to halt a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.

As daily cases in Italy hit a new record 11,705 on Sunday, Conte said the situation had become critical but his government has been determined to avoid a repeat of the lockdown imposed at the start of the crisis in March.

As well as ordering betting shops to be closed from 9 p.m. and halting amateur sporting competitions and local fairs, he said the government would consider ordering gyms and swimming pools to be closed after further checks on security protocols this week. (Reporting by Elvira Pollina and James Mackenzie)