Italian PM Giuseppe Conte has signed an emergency decree, virtually locking down the Lombardy region and 14 other provinces until April 3, to curb the spread of coronavirus that killed at least 233 across the country so far.
While the central government stopped short of enforcing a mandatory quarantine and introducing a complete travel ban, calling it a “reduced mobility” regime, the bill virtually banned citizens from entering or leaving the “red zones” unless for an emergency or “essential work reason.”
The quarantine measures – the most drastic outside of mainland China so far – affect an estimated 16 million people across Lombardy, including its capital, Milan, as well as 14 other provinces in the Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, and Veneto regions.
In addition to schools and universities, all museums, gyms, cultural centers, ski resorts, and swimming pools will be closed in the affected areas until at least April 3. Anyone with a temperature of 37.5C or higher, or who is showing signs of respiratory infection, regardless whether they are confirmed coronavirus positive or not, are “strongly recommended” to self-isolate at home.
Stay home. Move as little as possible and only for situations of real need.
Bars and restaurants, however, are allowed to stay open between 6am and 6pm, as long as they “guarantee at least a meter of distance between customers,” Conte said.
We realize that it is very severe but we can no longer allow infections.
The draft of the bill, which was leaked earlier on Saturday, triggered heated debate and pushback from regional authorities. Conte eventually signed the bill after midnight, saying that while he “very much appreciated” and was ready to address the opposition’s concerns on Monday or Tuesday, Italy could not lose another day in the battle against the deadly disease.
With 233 people officially confirmed dead and over 5,800 infected by Sunday morning, Italy is currently the third hardest-hit nation after South Korea and China – the original source of the novel coronavirus outbreak.