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Italian government puts entire nation on lockdown as coronavirus death toll spikes

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With the announcement Monday that the coronavirus death toll shot up from 97 to 463 in Italy, the entire country has effectively been put on lockdown — which makes for quite a feat in a democratic country of 60 million people.

The total puts Italy behind only China in reported deaths, although there’s skepticism over the number of deaths the Iran government is admitting, reportedly around 237.

Italian Prime Minister Giusseppe Conte announced the “I Stay at Home” decree, that initiates a travel ban throughout the country, as the virus has spread to all 22 Italian regions, the Daily Mail reported.

“There won’t be just a red zone. There will be Italy’ as a protected area,” Conte told reporters.

The prime minister also vowed that “massive shock therapy” is forthcoming to aid the Italian economy.

The government is barring public gatherings of any size and nonessential travel is not allowed, Conte said Monday. Italians can only leave home for work deemed essential, for family emergencies and to seek health care, according to the Daily Mail.

Police in Milan were reportedly requiring Italians who were traveling to sign a form certifying that are doing so for the acceptable reasons.

“We want to protect the health of all citizens, we are aware that this will create unease and that these measures will be a sacrifice, big and small,” Conte said in an address to the nation.

“This is the time to be responsible,” he pleaded. “We all must respect and not dodge these measures.”

“We must think about protecting our health, the health of our beloved ones, the health of our parents, but mainly the health of our grandparents,” Conte said.

Older people have proven to be the most vulnerable to the virus.

Italy’s coronavirus measures are the toughest actions seen outside of mainland China.

Schools have already been shut down across the country until March 15, the British tabloid reported — Italy declared a public health emergency in February 21.

Conte called out young people in Italy who have been gathering at night to drink and have a good time, the Daily Mail reported.

“This night life…we can’t allow this anymore,” he said.

The Daily Mail noted bars and restaurants “can remain open as long as customers stay three feet apart – but will be shut down if their guests are found to be getting too close to each other.”

Considering that depth perception is seriously altered after a few drinks, good luck enforcing that rule.

Sports events were also banned nationwide.

“There’s no reason for the games to continue,’ Conte said. ‘The fans will have to deal with it. We won’t even allow gyms to be used.”

Italy’s premier soccer league had been playing in empty stadiums up until Monday.

Prison inmates in the country are rioting over tough measures put into place to fight the virus.

Vincenzo Tosetti, a 34-year old actor and Venice resident, was quoted in the article saying many people have fled from Milan.

“This is going to test the Italians’ ability to behave responsibly, and I have to say that up until now they’ve been failing. There’s been an exodus,” he said.

Tom Tillison


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