In Depth

Life inside the Italian coronavirus lockdown

Prime Minister Conte says restrictions on movement to be prolonged

Italy’s nationwide lockdown is to be extended beyond the current end date of 3 April, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced, after the country recorded its highest number of deaths from coronavirus in a day.

Italian health authorities reported 475 new fatalities from the virus on Wednesday, taking the death toll to almost 3,000. It remains the country with the highest number of coronavirus cases outside China, at more than 35,000 according to latest figures.

Italy has introduced a host of draconian measures aimed at curbing the outbreak. Many other countries and cities – including London – expected to follow suit in the coming weeks. 

What are Italy’s restrictions on movement?

Millions of Italians have been forced to stay at home since 9 March, when PM Conte introduced a national quarantine policy.

“There won’t be just a red zone,” he said. “There will be Italy.”

The government decree also ordered the closing of shops, bars, restaurants, gyms and swimming pools. All public events have been cancelled, and cultural centres, museums and ski resorts have all been shut down.

Since then, citizens have been able to leave their homes only for “essential” purposes such as work, health-related reasons or to do food shopping. Only pharmacies and grocery stores remain open, all other shops have been closed.

Anyone with symptoms must not leave the house under any circumstances. Those wishing to travel must obtain a permit, citing a valid work or family reason.

Permits are granted only for “urgent, verifiable work situations and emergencies or health reasons”.

Those accompanying the sick to hospital will no longer be able to use hospital waiting rooms without permission.

Italy has also suspended prisoners’ right to visits from family and friends, causing riots to break out in jails across the country.

How is it policed?

Police stopped and checked 700,000 citizens between 11 and 17 March, 43,000 of whom were found to have violated the decree, says The Guardian.

In Sicily, one man who had tested positive for coronavirus was encountered by police while out shopping, despite the order to stay at home. Prosecutors accuse him of “aiding the epidemic”. If convicted, he faces up to 12 years in prison.

On 10 March, a 30-year-old man was discovered by police in Turin at 2.30am attempting to solicit a sex worker.

Numerous priests and families of the dead have been charged for officiating at and attending funerals, which are currently banned.

In Aosta, in northwest Italy, a man is being investigated for “aggravated attempt to spread the epidemic” after he failed to inform his doctors of suspected coronavirus symptoms before undergoing plastic surgery on his nose. He subsequently tested positive.

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