Italy is on the verge of a country-wide lockdown as existing measures have proven insufficient to contain the virus. The country’s 60 million people will now be placed under quarantine.
All public gatherings are banned, including sport events, and people entering or leaving the country will need a good reason to do so. Everyone is urged to stay home as much as possible.
The lockdown will last until at least April 3, authorities say.
Italy is the most affected country in all of Europe when it comes to Covid-19, and now, the country has implemented measures similar to what was happening in Wuhan when the outbreak first took shape. The entire country is essentially quarantined.
“We all must give something up for the good of Italy. We have to do it now, “said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. “This is why I decided to adopt even more strong and severe measures to contain the advance… and protect the health of all citizens.”
People should stay at home, Conte added. But even if they don’t, there won’t be much to do in the cities.
Schools and universities are closed until April 3rd. Nightlife is essentially shut down. Pubs and restaurants must ensure a distance of at least 1 meter between clients. Passengers departing on flights will have to provide justification for their reason of travel — and all are advised against traveling unless necessary. Most cruise ships are banned. There are controls at train stations to check the temperatures of passengers.
Public transportation is still functioning, but the Italian government is urging everyone to stay home for the next few weeks.
Italy is showing the world what the Covid-19 outbreak might look like outside China.
Italy’s story also carries a warning for the other plages: only by taking the outbreak seriously from the very start can we hope to contain it. At first, Italian politicians came in one after the other, boasting that everything is under control and no major measures are necessary.
“Milan carries on,” the mayor of Milan defiantly tweeted just 11 days ago. Now, less than 2 weeks later, he has changed his tone. “Only by not minimising the situation,” he said, “can it be overcome.”
Trying to reduce panic is understandable: panic is unwarranted, unnecessary, and will make things much much worse. But it’s best for everyone if the outbreak is taken seriously, as soon as possible. Italy’s confusing communication strategy and lack of a clear plan has made things muc worse than they needed to be. Had the government been much more clear in its communication and much more proactive in its decisions, such an extreme measure might have not been necessary. Hopefully, this lesson will not be ignored.