Italy is now officially on lockdown as the country battles the worst coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia. According to CNN, 463 people have died as a result of coronavirus infection in Italy where over 9,172 are infected with 97 people dying since Sunday alone (as of this writing). As a result of the severity of the outbreak, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced a ban on all public events Monday evening and has said that the entire country will adopt the strict measures that were originally limited to the northern parts of the country, the epicenter of the outbreak, saying, “There won’t be just a red zone … There will be Italy.”
Italy’s coronavirus quarantine policy involves discouraging anyone from going outside. As a result, sporting events, schools, universities, museums, movie theaters, concert halls, and church gatherings have been canceled or closed. Business Insider reports that restaurants, cafes, and shops will be open, but customers need to be able to stay at least three feet apart. Essential travel (work-related or family-related) is allowed, but travelers are required to sign police forms stating their reason for travel and may be subject to police checks if traveling by car.
Lombardy President Attilio Fontana has warned in a statement that those efforts may not be enough, calling the move “a necessary step but, I fear, still insufficient.” Adding, “the numbers in Lombardy and in the rest of the country show that the contagion is constantly expanding, with all consequences we know starting with the overload of work in hospitals, in particular in intensive care.”
Speaking to CNN, the coordinator for intensive care in the crisis unit for the northern Lombardy region warned that the country’s health care system was “one step from collapse.” Health officials expect that at least 18,000 patients will need care by the end of the month.
According to the Independent, for those in the middle of vacations or business trips in Italy, airports are still open and people are permitted to return home on flights. But all flights are in a state of flux — with the potential of being canceled, rescheduled, or postponed. It’s an absolute mess and each traveler is subject to whatever the air carriers policy on the matter is, which as we covered, is not always great.
The lockdown is proving tough for the country to handle. After visitors were banned from visiting loved ones in prison, inmates across 22 different Italian prisons escaped their cells, overran the facilities, and kidnapped officers. In the southern city of Foggia, inmates occupied the entire compound, with 43 detainees escaping before eventually being recaptured by the prison’s police force. Multiple inmates have died as a result of the uproar, according to CNN.
The country begins its first full day under the strict measures today.