Italy to quarantine Milan, Venice and other regions: Media

Italy will quarantine the entire Milan, Venice and other regions to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Picture shows deserted bar tables in front of the Doge palace in Venice on March 5, 2020.
ROME: Italy will quarantine the entire Lombardy region around Milan to limit the spread of the coronavirus as well as areas around and including Venice and the cities of Parma and Rimini, Italian media reported Saturday.

A draft of a government resolution obtained by Italy's Corriere Della Sera newspaper and other media said movement into and out of the regions would be severely restricted until April 3.

Milan is the Italian financial capital and has a population of just under 1.4 million people.

The entire Lombardy region is home to 10 million.

The government decree also covers parts of the Veneto region around Venice as well as Emilia-Romagna's Parma and Rimini.

Those three cities have a combined population of around 540,000 people.

It was not immediately clear from either the decree or the media reports as to when the measure would go into effect.

Corriere Della Sera said it was "imminent".

Italy has borne the brunt in Europe since the novel coronavirus first emerged in China late last year.

The Mediterranean country of 60 million people has recorded 233 deaths and 5,883 infections in the past two weeks.

The virus has not spread to all 22 Italian regions and the first deaths are being recorded in Italy's less well medically equipped south.

The World Health Organization (WHO) urged Italy on Friday to keep "a strong focus on containment measures".

The government degree said people in the quarantine zones would be advised to stay at home as much as possible.

It shuts down all night clubs as well as gyms and swimming pools.

Bars and restaurants will remain open but must ensure that everyone is seated at least a metre (three feet) apart.

It stresses that entry into and out of the new quarantine zones would only be allowed for "serious reasons".

Until now, Italy had quarantined 11 villages with a combined population of 50,000 people in the Lombardy region and parts of the area around Venice.

The month-long ban on entry to places such as Venice could deliver a crippling blow to the city's already-struggling tourism industry.

There was no immediate word on whether the Italian Stock Exchange in Milan would remain open.

"I cannot fail to stress that the draft decree of the prime minister is -- to say the least -- messed up," Lombardy region president Attilio Fontan was quoted as saying by Italy's Sky TG24 rolling news channel.

The draft decree says that those who violate the restrictions could be punished by fines and jailed for up to three months.
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