Italy is attempting to crack down on the spread of the coronavirus by issuing strict new quarantine procedures for its residents, including a nationwide ban on public gatherings. According to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, people will now only be allowed to travel for work or family emergencies, and sporting events are being canceled nationwide. The goal is to encourage people to stay home and minimize the risk of infection.
The new measures will go into effect on Tuesday, March 10, and are similar in nature to those previously applied to the region of Lombardy. On Sunday, the government effectively shut down Lombardy until at least April 3, closing museums, theaters, and schools, and suspending weddings and funerals. Restaurants and bars were also ordered to keep customers at a safe distance from one another.
When news of the Lombardy plan leaked, thousands panicked and tried to flee the region before the measures went into effect. The exodus from Lombardy prompted authorities in other regions to check for travelers coming from the north, with Puglia even requiring any new arrivals from the north to quarantine themselves.
On Facebook, the president of Puglia Michele Emiliano encouraged people from the north to refrain from potentially spreading the virus, saying, “You are carrying into the lungs of your brothers and sisters, your grandparents, uncles, cousins, parents the virus that folded the health system of Northern Italy.”