Italy may tighten restrictions over Christmas to limit the spread of COVID-19 infections, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday as he urged Italians to avoid "irresponsible" gatherings during the holiday period.
Italy had managed to avoid a generalised lockdown to halt the surge of new cases since the summer, instead imposing a more limited set of restrictions to hold back the pandemic.
But as the Christmas break approaches "there might be certain little adjustments, certain additional supplementary measures," he said.
"We have to avoid the risk of a third wave," Conte said, adding that the consequences would be "devastating".
The comments at an online event organised by the publishers of the daily La Stampa newspaper, came as Italy, the European country with the highest death toll, reported 846 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, bringing its total to 65,857.
Worries about a fresh resurgence of the disease have been fuelled by scenes of crowded shopping centres in large cities including Rome and Milan in recent days.
Italy is one of eight European states that are coordinating their vaccination campaigns but Conte said vaccination campaign would have to target some 10 million to 15 million people in order to "have an effective impact on immunity".
He said the campaign was expected to have a significant impact by the spring.