The Italian Cabinet late on Friday approved a new aid package worth €25 billion to help families and workers amid the heavy economic fallout of the pandemic. 

The new stimulus measures are the third tranche of a government plan aimed at supporting Italy’s fragile economy brought to its knees by the strict lockdown imposed nationwide to stem the spread of coronavirus.

In total, the three emergency decrees approved by the Italian government since March released funding to the tune of €100 billion.

“The new decree aims at supporting workers, businesses, and local institutions,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said at a press conference on Friday evening, detailing the new measures.

The package includes an 18-week extension of public funding for workers under temporary unemployment schemes.

Firms that requested the state aid, however, will have to put on hold any layoff until the schemes are running.

The government also approved special measures to help struggling businesses and workers in the poorer southern regions, to fill the productive gap with the industrialized north of the country.

Southern companies will benefit from a 30% cut of social contribution costs for all their employees, not just new hires.

The decree also provides extra funding for schools reopening in September under strict safety and sanitary rules.

A specific fund was created to help businesses and commercial activities based in the historical centers of 29 Italian cities, which were particularly hit by the pandemic as they were top destinations for international tourists.

The new decree will push the Italian budget deficit to over 11% , bringing public debt to almost 160% of gross domestic product. The Italian output is expected to contract by over 11% this year.

Conte said that the new decree also extends until Sept. 7 some “basic containment measures” approved in the past few months to block the virus spread.

The Italian premier asked Italians to continue observing all the precautions to fight the virus, despite the desire to enjoy summer vacations to the fullest.

So far, the pandemic has claimed 35,200 lives nationwide in a severe blow to Italy’s health care system.

Wearing face masks will remain mandatory indoors in public places and outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Large public gatherings have also been banned.

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