Photo: asia.nikkei.com

Special permission will be required to travel for Italians residing in Lombardy and 14 other central and northern provinces.

What’s more, Venice and Milan are also affected presently.

In an announcement by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs as well as other places across the country will be closed. This measure, which will be effective until 3 April, is the most radical measure undertaken in countries outside of China.

In Europe, Italy is the country with the highest number of Covid-19 infections. On Saturday (7 March), the number of confirmed cases spiked by more than 1,200 to 5,883.

In one of the most recent cases, the army’s chief of staff, Salvatore Farina was tested positive. According to Mr Farina, he isolated himself, and subsequently felt better.

The stringent new quarantine measures were deployed in the centre of the rich northern part of Italy, affecting a quarter of the Italian population. This part of the country is Italy’s economic centre.

According to official reports, there were more than 36 deaths in 24 hours as the death toll exceeded 230.

In Lombardy, a northern region of 10 million people, the healthy system is creaking immensely from the medical treatment scale, where patients are treated in hospital corridors.

Prime Minister Conte stated in his announcement in the middle of the night, “We want to guarantee the health of our citizens. We understand that these measures will impose sacrifices, sometimes small and sometimes very big.”

With the new measures in place, entry and exit in and out of Lombardy are strictly prohibited. Lombardy houses Milan as the main city.

The same measures have been applied to 14 other provinces: Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola, Vercelli, Padua, Treviso, and Venice.

“There will be no movement in or out of these areas, or within them, unless for proven work-related reasons, emergencies or health reasons…We are facing an emergency, a national emergency. We have to limit the spread of the virus and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” Prime Minister Conte told to the reporters.

On Sunday (8 March), the affected regions still saw some transport moving in and out of those regions. Despite some scheduled flight cancellations, flights continued to land at Milan’s Linate and Malpensa airports.

According to Italy’s national airline Alitalia, all operations would be suspended from Malpensa beginning today (9 March) while Linate would only be used for domestic flights.

“The initial announcement that Venice was in lockdown was quite terrifying but everything at the airport is pretty calm…I was in a bit of a panic as I thought we were going to be stuck in Venice for a month,” as remarked by Chris Wood, a 26-year-old tourist from London who ended the trip with his girlfriend early and were waiting at Venice to board a flight home.

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