Italian authorities have announced the lockdown of the country’s northern region of Lombardy and 14 nearby provinces resulting to 16 million people being placed on quarantine.
The move, announced on Saturday, is an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus among people in the new “red zones” until April 3.
“We understand that these measures will require sacrifices, but this is … self-responsibility,” Conte said in a news conference on Sunday.
The drastic move comes after tests revealed a big increase in the number of coronavirus infections. In its daily update, Italy’s civil protection agency said on Saturday that the number of infected people rose by 1,247, bringing the total to 5,883.
Among those infected is the head of the co-ruling Democratic Party, Nicola Zingaretti.
In addition to Lombardy, the quarantine area has been extended to the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro e Urbino, Venezia, Padova, Treviso, Asti, Vercelli, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola and Alessandria.
The government’s decision restricts all movements in the quarantined area. Police forces will patrol the roads in these provinces.
Those who enter or exit the region without a significant, “not deferrable”, work reason or a health emergency will be fined.
“This is not a ban on any movement, but citizens will have to justify them,” Conte said.
Museums are closed and any civil ceremonies, including funerals, are suspended. Bars and pubs that can guarantee a distance of one metre (3.3 feet) between customers can open but must close their doors at 6pm.
Gyms, swimming pools, theatres and betting shops will close, and athletes will have to train indoors with no crowds around.
“We must act to avoid the spread of the infection and the overload of our health system,” Conte said.
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