Deserted streets while Italy imposes an unprecedented coronavirus block

ROME: faced an unprecedented blockade on Tuesday that left streets in the capital Rome and other cities deserted after the government extended repression across the country in an attempt to curb the worst outbreak of coronavirus in Europe.

The measures, announced on Monday afternoon by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, extend the steps already taken in the rich northern region of Lombardy and parts of the neighboring provinces, restricting movement and prohibiting public meetings.

The future of Italy is in our hands. Let's do our part, giving up something for our collective good, Conte said in a tweet, encouraging people to take personal responsibility.

The last steps occurred after the data showed that the coronavirus outbreak continued to spread, with 9,172 positive cases recorded as of Monday and 463 deaths, highly concentrated in the thriving regions of northern Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto .

In Rome , cars circulated freely under a clear blue sky in the normally traffic-clogged centre and commuters could find seats in the usually packed underground system during rush hour.

Rome landmarks including the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and St Peter's Square in the Vatican were closed or empty, with police telling tourists to return to their hotels.

For at least the next three weeks, people have been asked to stay at home if possible, to move only for work, health or emergency needs. Anyone traveling will have to carry a document stating their reasons and the schools and universities will remain closed.

Outdoor events, including sports, have been suspended, while bars and restaurants should close after 6 p.m. Stores can remain open as long as customers maintain a minimum distance of one meter between them.

All of Italy is closed now, it was the headline in Corriere della Sera, the largest newspaper in the country.

Following the repression, neighboring Austria said it would deny entry to people arriving from Italy, while British Airways canceled all flights to and from the country.

Severe controls

The measures are some of the most severe controls imposed on a western country since World War II and there have already been questions about how effectively they can be applied in a country of 60 million people.

Shortly after Conte announced them, shoppers in Rome rushed to late-night supermarkets to stock up on food and basic necessities, prompting the government to declare that supplies would be guaranteed and urging people not to panic buy.

He is also worried that supermarkets will empty out of fear. If people keep buying too much, there will be no water left, said the building superintendent, who like many Italians drinks bottled water.

They should make people do it with an identity card, with one case per family, he said, refusing to give his last name.

In the financial capital of Milan, already under stricter controls, the situation was similar, with many shops and businesses open, but far fewer people than usual on the streets.

the World Health Organization elogió la respuesta agresiva de Italia a la crisis, ya que the primeros casos surgieron cerca de Milán hace casi tres semanas, diciendo que podría ayudar a contener la propagación de la enfermedad desde el epicentro del norte.

Pero el costo económico ha sido enorme, con sectores desde la manufactura hasta el turismo reportando un colapso en the pedidos que impactará en the próximos meses.

El lunes, la bolsa de valores de Milán cayó más del 11% y the costos de endeudamiento de Italia se dispararon, reviviendo the temores de que una economía que ya está al borde de la recesión y que luche bajo la segunda pila de deuda más fuerte de la zona euro podría caer en crisis.

the market recovered some ground on Tuesday, with the all-share index up almost 3% in early trade.

Conte has already promised massive shock therapy to help deal with the immediate economic impact of the crisis and on Tuesday, Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli said the government would approve measures worth about 10 billion euros.

In addition to pressing the European Union para relajar sus estrictas reglas de endeudamiento, dijo que el gobierno también estaba trabajando en suspender temporalmente the pagos de cuentas, impuestos e hipotecas para aliviar la presión sobre las pequeñas empresas y the hogares.