Four Italian regions will go into partial lockdown from Friday as the government scrambles to regain control of the coronavirus pandemic.
Giuseppe Conte’s government is trying to avoid a full national shutdown and has instead introduced a three-tier system that divides the country’s 20 regions up according to level of risk.
The northern regions of Lombardy, Piedmont and Aosta Valley, along with Calabria in the south, have been placed in the “red zone”, meaning people will only be able to leave their homes for work, health or emergency reasons and bars, restaurants and non-essential shops – apart from hairdressers – will close. People will be banned from travelling in or out of their regions.
In Puglia and Sicilia, which have been placed in the orange zone, bars and restaurants will be closed and people will be able to move freely within their towns and cities but not leave them. The rest of the country will be in the yellow zone, meaning there will be no new restrictions apart from those already imposed nationally, such as the 6pm closure of bars and restaurants and complete closure of cinemas, theatres and gyms. All regions will be under a 10pm-5am curfew.
Unlike in the spring, factories will stay open across the country.
Restrictions per region have been determined by the rate of Covid-19 transmission, the number of infections and people with symptoms and the availability of hospital beds.
The measures will be in place until 3 December.
“The virus here, and in the whole of Europe, is racing strongly, and violently,” Conte said.
Cases last week doubled compared to the previous one, the rate of transmission has increased to 1.7 nationally, and in some regions it’s higher. There are no alternatives, to slow the curve we need these restrictions … I understand the inconvenience and frustration, but we have to hold tight.
Conte said intensive care capacity would be at risk in 15 of Italy’s 20 regions within a few weeks unless new measures were enacted.
Italy registered 30,550 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday and 352 fatalities.
The number of people hospitalised across the country stood at 22,116 Wednesday, of whom 2,292 were in intensive care – more than double the number on 24 October.
Doctors had called for more aggressive restrictions as hospitals become overwhelmed and staff fall sick – 14,000 health workers were infected with coronavirus between September and October, and 184 medics have died since the start of the pandemic.
The worst-affected regions in terms of daily caseload are Lombardy, which on Wednesday registered 7,758 cases, Campania, which for now is in the yellow zone, and Piedmont.