ROME – Italy will close all its shops, bars, restaurants and main commercial activities except essential services in its latest effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte made the key announcement late Wednesday in a speech to the nation after the death toll from the virus jumped by 196 in only 24 hours to 827 with a total of 10,590 confirmed cases in the country – the most hard-hit in Europe.
Conte said the new restrictions will be imposed nationally for at least two weeks, after which the main effects of the new measures will be assessed.
“We will only be able to see the effects of this great effort in a couple of weeks,” he said, adding this sacrifice by all Italians was key for the future of the country.
“This is the time to take a further step,” Conte added, without ruling out future restrictions.
The Italian premier specified that all shops will be shut down with the exception of supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies. All bars and restaurants will also be closed, while firms will be able to continue their activities only if they apply specific security protocols to protect their employees.
Conte said, however, that essential services including transportation, banking and insurance and agricultural activities will continue.
“We need to remain distant now to be able to embrace each other afterwards,” he said. “All together, we will make it.” (Anadolu)