Italy imposes national curfew, locked down 'red zones'2 min read . Updated: 04 Nov 2020, 08:42 PM IST
- Italy's 60 million residents will be required to stay home from 10:00 pm until 5:00 am except for work or health reasons
- Italy was the first European country hit by coronavirus and has so far reported almost 760,000 cases, and more than 39,400 deaths
Italy was poised Wednesday to impose a nationwide curfew and tougher measures for some populous regions as it faces a surge in coronavirus cases.
From Thursday, Italy's 60 million residents will be required to stay home from 10:00 pm until 5:00 am except for work or health reasons under a new decree signed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
In addition, the country's regions will be divided into zones -- high risk, medium high and moderate -- based on how quickly the virus is spreading and availability of hospital beds, among other factors.
In the handful of high-risk "red zones", retail stores not selling essential goods such as food and pharmaceuticals are to shut, and people will be restricted from travelling outside their home town or city.
Travel between some regions is to be restricted as well.
Italy was the first European country hit by coronavirus and has so far reported almost 760,000 cases, and more than 39,400 deaths.
Conte had hoped to avoid a country-wide lockdown such as that imposed in March, which devastated the economy, and wanted to wait to see whether more moderate restrictions imposed last week had had an impact.
These included the closure of pubs and restaurants at 6:00 pm, a move that sparked some small but sometimes violent protests in cities such as Rome, Naples and Turin.
But the quick spread of the virus, which has begun to overwhelm the health system in some areas, is forcing his hand.
- 'Stay united' -
The new restrictions fall short of lockdowns imposed in other European nations such as Britain and France, and were agreed only after long discussion with regional leaders.
Conte called for unity, writing on Facebook: "The different opinions and diversity of views should not undermine our constant effort to support each other.
"There is only one way out of this dramatic period: to remain united. Always."
The list of red-zone regions is expected to include prosperous, industrial Lombardy in Italy's north and neighbouring Piedmont, as well as Calabria in the south.
Red-zone restrictions, some details of which have yet to be worked out, will resemble those imposed earlier this year during a severe national lockdown, with residents' movements curtailed.
But unlike then, churches and parks will be open, hairdressers will operate and restaurants can serve take-out food until the nighttime curfew.
On a national level, museums will shut and shopping centres will be closed at the weekend.
Giuseppe Sala, the mayor of Milan in Lombardy, wrote on Facebook that the measures were "severe", but said they would be "respected and applied."
Secondary schools, which were already running most classes online, will switch to total distance learning under the new decree, although younger children will still be allowed to go to school.
The number of passengers on public transport will also be halved.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.