Italian government has ordered a virtual lockdown of its financial capital, Milan and 14 other central and Northern provinces in a drastic new attempt to contain a rapidly growing outbreak of coronavirus.
The unprecedented restrictions, which will impact some 16 million people and stay in force until April 3, were signed into law overnight by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
The new measures say people should not enter or leave Lombardy, Italy’s richest region, as well as 14 provinces in four other regions, including the cities of Venice, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini.
Conte said nobody would be allowed to move in or out of these areas, or within them, unless they had proven, work-related reasons for doing so, or health issues.
“We are facing a national emergency. We chose from the beginning to take the line of truth and transparency and now we’re moving with lucidity and courage, with firmness and determination,” Conte told reporters in the middle of the night.
“We have to limit the spread of the virus and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” he said.
Streets in northern cities including Milan were quieter than normal on Sunday morning. However, it was not immediately clear how stringently the order would be policed, with people caught away from home when the measures came into force allowed to return.