Italy in coronavirus lockdown with all public gatherings banned nationwide

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

All of Italy has been placed into lockdown in an unprecedented move to try and curtail the rapid spread of coronavirus, the country’s prime minister confirmed.

Giuseppe Conte made the announcement late on Monday (local time) and it comes less than 48 hours after several regions of Italy’s north, including the cities of Milan and Venice, were placed under similar restrictions.

Officials were angered that the restrictions were leaked to the media hours before they were enacted, prompting thousands of residents to flee by road and train to the nation’s south.

Travel has been brought to a minimum across the whole country as of Tuesday. Source: AP
An armed guard outside the closed off Duomo di Milano . Source: Getty

There have been 463 deaths in the country so far from the virus, the highest toll behind China.

The restrictions, in place for the nation’s 60 million people as of Tuesday, include the closure of museums, theatres, cinemas and other public venues.

In a televised address, Conte urged Italians the best thing for the country was to stay at home.

"We all must give something up for the good of Italy. We have to do it now, and we'll only be able if we all collaborate and adapt to these more stringent measures,” Conte said.

Under the restrictions, people can only travel if they have valid reason to either for work or emergencies.

Inbound and outbound passengers on flights, will have to justify their travel.

Temporary visitors will be allowed to leave the country.

Conte also took to task young people in much of Italy who have been gathering at night to drink and have a good time during the public health emergency that started on February 21.

"This night life...we can't allow this anymore," he said.

Under the weekend decree that applied to regions in the north, pubs, restaurants and cafes are required to close at dusk. Now the mandatory early hours will affect all of a locked-down Italy.

Anyone breaching the restrictions could face time in prison.

Venice has been brought to a standstill since the restrictions. Pictured is a coffin being carried by boat after a mass on the Murano island. Source: AP
A lone passenger waits at the Termini Central Station during the Coronavirus emergency. Source: Getty

Multiple inmates die in Italy prison riots

Conte’s announcement came after a chaotic day for the country, which saw six inmates at a northern Italy prison die after they broke into the infirmary and overdosed on methadone.

The protest on Sunday in Modena was among the first of more than two dozen riots at Italy's overcrowded lock-ups.

Human rights advocates have been warning that increasing tensions over fears of coronavirus were hitting inmates particularly hard, especially after restrictions were imposed on family visits to prevent transmissions.

Inmates stage a protest against new rules to cope with coronavirus emergency, including the suspension of relatives' visits, on the roof of the San Vittore prison in Milan. Source: AP
Inmates unfold banners reading in Italian Pardon, top, and Freedom. Source: AP

On Monday, inmates climbed onto the roof of the San Vittore prison in Milan and held up a painted sheet reading "Indulto", Italian for "pardon".

Penitentiary police union secretary-general Donato Capece accused the government of abandoning the prison system.

"The administration is completely absent," he said.

"They have left the penitentiary police in jeopardy.

He revealed some inmates at Foggia had also escaped.

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