Giuseppe Conte, the Prime Minister of Italy, announced on Monday that the entire country will now be under lockdown with the hopes that these drastic measures could help suppress the spread of coronavirus. Conte extended the scope of the lockdown, which will stay in effect until April 3, after shutting down the northern regions of Italy this past weekend.
Under the decree signed by Conte, all public events will be banned, while public spaces—including movie theaters, gyms, and pubs—will be forced to temporarily close. According to BuzzFeed News, businesses that provide "essential services" will remain open; these include grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks.
Funerals and weddings must be rescheduled, sporting events will be postponed, and all schools and universities will remain closed until further notice. Public transportation will be available for those who need to get to work, and people will be permitted to travel between cities for emergency reasons only. Anyone who fails to follow the rules of this lockdown could face fines, and up to three months in jail.
According to The Guardian, Italy saw another spike in deaths from coronavirus (366 to 463), number of cases (9,172, a 24 percent increase), and patients in intensive care (733 from 650). "The figures show we are experiencing a serious increase in infections, an increase in people hospitalized in intensive care – and an increase, unfortunately, in deaths," Conte explained. "We need to change our lifestyle. We need to change it now. That’s why I have decided to adopt these hard measures."
Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced that the whole of the country is being put on lockdown in an attempt to contain the #coronavirus outbreak.— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 9, 2020
For the latest on #COVID19, click here: https://t.co/BnjqqFZLOz pic.twitter.com/hFF2zYmuMB
Conte's original lockdown on Italy's northern region accounted for 16 million people. By shutting down the entire country, Italy's government is now taking the most extensive effort to combat the coronavirus outbreak outside of China where the spread of the virus appears to be slowing down.
On March 10, the Italian government announced it was temporarily suspending all mortgage payments as citizens cope with economic effects of the virus. Laura Castelli, Italy’s deputy economy minister, confirmed the move during an appearance on Radio Anch'io.
"Yes, that will be the case, for individuals and households," she said when asked about the suspension.