LONDON - The Italian government further tightened restrictions on the nation for two weeks Thursday. All stores, including bars and restaurants, will remain closed. The latest decision came after the death toll from coronavirus jumped to more than 800 and cases in Italy rose to more than 12,000.
Experts say the spread of the disease in Italy appears to be 10-15 days ahead of other European countries, like France and Germany, and that those countries should follow Italy’s approach.
A total lockdown in Italy is forcing people who leave their homes to produce a document detailing the reasons for their movements. Streets and piazzas in cities all over the country were deserted on Thursday as people followed the newly-imposed measures by authorities to combat the spread of COVID-19.
In just a few weeks, Italy's death toll has risen to more than 800 with a jump of close to 200 cases in 24 hours. Cities now are practically deserted with only food stores and pharmacies allowed to remain open. To enter those businesses, people are allowed in one at the time and everyone must maintain a safe distance from others.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Italians have so far reacted in an extraordinary fashion. Speaking again to the nation on Wednesday night about “the difficult moment we are living and the need to prepare for the changes that are required”, he said this is the time to take a further step to remain united and protected.
Conte said that now all stores would remain closed with the exception of pharmacies and shops selling food. He warned that there was no need to race to buy food in supermarkets. He added that all shops, bars, pubs, restaurants would close, but it would be possible to make home deliveries. The measures, he said, would remain in place for two weeks and that it was possible that improvements would not be seen before then.
The prime minister said, “If we all respect these rules we will get out of this emergency more quickly. The country needs the responsibility of each of us, the responsibility of 60 million Italians who on a daily basis carry out small and large sacrifices.”
As the coronavirus epidemic spreads in Europe, experts are saying other nations should watch Italy carefully and the measures it has adopted. They say countries like Germany, France and Britain are not far behind Italy and will soon need to take some of the same steps to contain the spread of the virus.