Italy’s government took the most drastic steps outside of China to curb Sunday’s spread of the novel coronavirus, saying it would lock up much of its northern region. The laws regulate the travel to roughly 16 million individuals.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Italy is suffering the worst coronavirus epidemic in History, with 5,883 outbreaks and 234 deaths as of Sunday. Per The New York Times, Giuseppe Conte, the country’s prime minister, said Italy is facing a national emergency. He said the interventions were “extremely stringent,” but necessary in order to curb the epidemic and ease the burden on Italy’s stressed health care system.
The limits are scheduled until April 3. CNN reports that those not adhering to the legislation will face up to three months in prison and a fine of € 206 (approximately $230).
“This is a self-responsible time,” Conte said.
The prime minister said there would be an “obligation” to stop travel inside and out of the northern territory, one of the main regions of Italy and a vital part of the economy.
Citizens residing in the locked-down area that includes famous cities such as Milan and Venice will not be able to travel freely either. Conte said that for family or work emergencies people will need special travel licenses to fly in or out of the locked-down regions, noting that police will search passengers and question them why they’ve entered the quarantined areas.
Italy has also announced new initiatives with implications beyond the northern region, including country-wide closures for libraries, movie theatres, discotheques and betting parlors. Several sites in northern Italy have recently been closed to contain the outbreak. It is not allowed to hold seminars for physicians and other medical professionals.
Funerals are also banned, as are cultural events. Publicly the rules require participants at sporting events, pubs, churches and stores to be at least one meter away from each other. While churches can stay open, they cannot hold mass. POLITICO Europe confirmed that when word of the latest restrictive laws leaked to the press on Saturday hundreds of christians fled the city of northern Italy to avoid being trapped.
Given the dramatic steps the Italian government has taken, there have been reports that the epidemic is spreading from the northern region. Nicola Zingaretti, the leader of Democratic Party’s governing coalition, said he was afflicted with COVID-19 on Saturday. Zingaretti has its head office in Rome.