The Italian government has locked down almost a quarter of the country’s population living across five regions in the north, in the most drastic measure taken by a European nation to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
A decree by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s office said the extraordinary steps will affect people living in the Lombardy region and 14 neighbouring provinces, including the financial hub of Milan and the tourist hotspot of Venice.
The lockdown, which will limit the movement of more than 16 million people, will remain in place until April 3.\
“For Lombardy and for the other northern provinces that I have listed, there will be a ban for everybody to move in and out of these territories and also within the same territory,” Conte told a press conference in the hours of Sunday after marathon discussions with officials.
“Exceptions will be allowed only for proven professional needs, exceptional cases and health issues,” he said.
Meanwhile, people who are currently outside the areas under lockdown will be allowed to return home.