Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has placed the entire country on lockdown, as part of drastic measures to contain and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.
On Monday, 9th March 2020, the Prime Minister extended the lockdown across the entire country, banning public gatherings and advising people to “stay at home.”
Whole Country of Italy Now Under Lockdown
On Sunday, 8th March, only the northern areas of Italy had been placed under quarantine, Channel News Asia reported. On Monday evening, however, the Prime Minister extended the measure to cover the entire country, which has a population of more than 60 million people.
The lockdown, which takes place under 3rd April, involves the following measures.
- Class and Work Suspensions. Schools and universities shall be closed for the time being. Meanwhile, businesses are advised to give their employees leave.
- Restaurants and Bars. All dining establishments should be open between 6am and 6pm only, and they should ensure a distance of at least one metre between customers.
- Religious Activities. Religious institutions can stay open, as long as people keep a one-metre distance from one another. However, ceremonies like baptisms, marriages, and funerals are banned for the next three weeks.
- Cancellation of Sports Events. Sporting events, such as the Serie A football league, are cancelled.
“Stay at Home” – Italian PM
In a dramatic television speech broadcast on Monday evening, Prime Minister Conte stated that his latest decree could “be summarised as follows: I stay at home.”
“Everyone must give up something to protect the health of citizens,” he stressed. “Today is our moment of responsibility. We cannot let our guard down.”
Nonetheless, the question of how the new measure would be enforced was not immediately clear, as flights and trains continued to travel in and out of Milan on Monday.
Based on the new rules, travel within the country will only be allowed for urgent work or health reasons. However, people can still return home or go to another part of the country after filling out a standardised form and explaining their purpose(s) for travel. These forms shall be submitted to authorities at airports, train stations, and major roads between cities.
Highest Numbers Outside China
Ever since the novel coronavirus emerged in China last December, Italy has become the hardest-hit country in Europe, with confirmed cases and fatalities second only to China.
As of this writing, Channel News Asia reports that there are now 113,614 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4,007 reported deaths worldwide. Here are the countries with the highest numbers of cases:
- China — 80,754 confirmed cases / 3,136 reported deaths
- Italy — 9,172 confirmed cases / 463 reported deaths
- South Korea — 7,513 confirmed cases / 54 reported deaths
- Iran — 7,161 confirmed cases / 237 reported deaths
- Spain — 1,204 confirmed cases / 28 reported deaths
- France — 1,191 confirmed cases / 21 reported deaths
- Germany — 1,139 confirmed cases / 2 reported deaths
Aside from these places, COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in many other countries around the world. These include the Philippines, which currently has 24 confirmed cases. In response, President Rodrigo Duterte has announced class suspensions in Metro Manila and tasked authorities to ensure that students are kept away from malls, cinemas, and other crowded places.