ROME (AP) – Four regions of Italy are locked in the “red zone”, with strict restrictions on cases in which people can leave their homes, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced entering Wednesday night.
What he called “very strict” restrictions began on Friday for Lombardy, Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta in the north, and for Calabria, which form the southernmost tip of the Italian peninsula.
The lockout is aimed at preventing an increase in COVID-19 infections and preventing hospitals from overwhelming cases. Lasting at least two weeks, it will involve about 16.5 million of Italy’s 60 million residents and that includes the country’s financial capital, Milan.
With some exceptions, no one can leave or enter the “red zone” areas. Everyone there should be at home, except for work or shopping for essentials. They can also exercise near home and wear a mask.
After days of consultations with regional governors, Health Minister Roberto Speranza decided which region was designated “red zone”.
“I know that these choices will mean sacrifice and hardship, but they are the only way to bend (spread),” he said in a statement. “United, we can do it.”
Barbers and hair salons may still be open, although other non-essential stores in the “red zone” must close.
Less severe restrictions on mobility have been decided for southern Sicily and Puglia, where people can leave their homes, but cannot travel between towns or regions, and kiosks. coffee and restaurant are only take-away and delivery.
While classes are open in the rest of Italy, with the exception of high schools, where remote instruction is required, in the “red zone”, there are only kindergarten, elementary and first year high school. The facility still has classroom instruction.
The most recent crackdown was supposed to begin on Thursday, but Conte said it would start on Friday to give time to hold it up instead. Assignments will be reviewed every two weeks.
He added that previously announced nationwide measures, such as museum closure and overnight curfew, would also start one day later, on Friday and run until December 3.
Conte promised that by the end of this week his center-left government would approve more funds to support businesses crippled by the latest shutdown.