Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte announced restrictions on movement and travel for 16 million people living in Northern Itay in the latest government effort to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in the country. The restrictions apply to the cities of Milan and Venice which are located in the region. The decree, signed early Sunday morning, will be in effect until April 3rd.
Johns Hopkins CSSE COVID-19 tracker reports 5,883 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ital and 233 deaths from the disease as of Sunday morning, March 8th. The confirmed number of cases has more than doubled since March 3rd and deaths have risen fourfold. Italy’s government announced on Friday that all schools would close through the middle of March so this new move is an escalation of controls aimed at stopping the novel coronavirus spread.
The AP reports that 14 counties are impacted by the decree including Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola, Vercelli, Padua, Treviso and Venice. People are not supposed to enter or leave these areas during the quarantine.
Schools and Nightclubs Closed Throughout Italy
The BBC reports that “Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also announced the closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the whole country.”
Word of the impending quarantine leaked prior to the initial announcement. According to AP sources, “Students at the University of Padua in northern Italy who had been out at bars on a Saturday night saw the rumors on their cellphones and rushed back to their apartments to grab their belongings and head to the train station.” Some made it onto an 11:30 pm train heading south just ahead of the quarantine’s official announcement.
Flights and trains are still operating in the region but are expected to only carry medical health workers or others based on a narrow set of exceptions to the quarantine. The response was precipitated by the rapid spread of the virus which has overwhelmed the healthcare system.
Read more at BBC.