Italy extends the areas where strict precautionary measures are taken against the new coronavirus to the entire Lombardy region and fourteen neighboring provinces. The mobility of around 16 million people will be severely limited until 3 April. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told ANSA news agency.
In the rest of the country, too, social life is almost coming to a halt. Schools, museums and cinemas remain closed, all cultural and religious events are canceled. In addition to Lombardy, this includes the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola, Vercelli, Padua, Treviso, and Venice.
The freedom of movement of around 16 million people, about a quarter of the total population, is considerably curtailed by the decree, which will remain in force until at least 3 April. People in the region are still allowed to leave their homes, although it is advised to stay indoors as much as possible. Traveling to and from the other areas and countries is still permitted, but only under strict conditions. Anyone who tests positive for the virus must be in-home quarantine – those who do not adhere to this risk a prison sentence of up to 3 months.
In the meantime, public life in Italy is practically shut down, while schools, cinemas, museums, and ski areas must remain closed throughout the country. Marriages, funerals, and all other religious events are postponed. All cultural events are also canceled.
Restaurants, cafés, and shops may open their doors between six in the morning and six in the evening, but customers must always keep at least one meter away. Also, sports activities such as football should continue in principle, but without an audience. The president of the Italian Football Association has, in the meantime, called for all matches to be postponed.
The plans were announced at a press conference during the night from Saturday to Sunday. There, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte lashed out at Italian media who had already published the measures on Saturday. “That is unacceptable,” Conte said of the leak. “This helps with uncertainty and has created confusion. We cannot accept this.”
In Italy, 5,883 people are infected with the virus, and 233 people have already died. This makes Italy the hardest hit in all of Europe. Of all patients, 589 have fully recovered. In order to cope with the virus outbreak, the government is calling on retired doctors to intervene.
Until now, Italy had quarantined eleven villages with a combined population of 50,000 in the Lombardy region and parts of the Venice area.