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Italy ramps up coronavirus lockdown, orders all shops to close other than supermarkets, chemists

Issued on: 12/03/2020 – 03:20Modified: 12/03/2020 – 03:20

Italy added new restrictions on Wednesda..

By admin , in Health , at March 12, 2020

Issued on: Modified:

Italy added new restrictions on Wednesday to a lockdown imposed to fight the coronavirus, ordering bars, restaurants and beauty parlors to close after the highest daily increase in deaths of any country since the outbreak began.

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In a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said all shops would be shuttered except supermarkets, food stores and chemists, and companies must close all non-essential departments.

"We will only be able to see the effects of this great effort in a couple of weeks," he said, referring to the daily bulletins announcing the number of new cases and fatalities.

On Wednesday the death toll in Europe's worst affected country jumped by 196 in 24 hours to 827. Confirmed cases across Italy rose to 12,462 from a previous 10,149.

Company canteens can remain open if they are able to guarantee a distance of at least 1 metre (3 feet) between customers.

The latest measures will take effect from Thursday and run until March 25, the prime minister's office said.

"The country needs responsibility from all of us, the responsibility of 60 million Italians that are making small and large sacrifices every day," Conte said.

His brief, sombre address echoed the words he used just two days ago when he widened a lockdown in the worst-hit northern regions to the whole of the country, banning all non-essential travel and public gatherings until April 3, halting sports events and extending a shutdown of schools.

Under the latest measures, trains and urban public transport will remain open, as will services considered essential such as plumbers, mechanics and petrol stations.

Such measures are taking a heavy toll on Italy's economy, and Conte announced earlier that he would ramp up spending to soften the economic blow from the virus, allocating 25 billion euros ($28.3 billion) to support firms and families.

Only a week ago, he estimated it would need just 7.5 billion euros.

Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri warned there may be a "significant contraction" in gross domestic product this year.

The extra spending announced on Wednesday means Italy's 2020 budget deficit looks certain to climb above 3% of national output, a ceiling set by EU rules.

An emergency decree to be approved this week will hike the deficit target initially to 2.7% from the current 2.2% goal, Gualtieri said in a letter to the European Commission.

Elderly people are particularly susceptible to the virus and IRead More – Source

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