Italy's draconian new measures to tackle coronavirus contagion
Italy's government has adopted a decree with emergency new measures to contain the coronavirus, as it struggles against the worst outbreak in Europe which has killed at least 107 in less than two weeks.
Here is a summary of the main points of the decree. All measures are valid until April 3 unless otherwise stated and concern the entire country:
KEEPING A SAFE DISTANCE
The decree tells Italians not to shake hands or hug each other and to keep a safe distance “of at least one metre” from other people. Masks must be worn only by those who have symptoms or are assisting the sick.
The decree orders “the suspension of events of any nature ... that entail a gathering of people” and that do not allow the one-metre safety limit to be respected. It says specifically that all cinemas and theatres must close.
SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES
All Italian schools and universities will close from today until at least March 15. Online teaching is encouraged. Training for doctors and health workers, who are badly needed by the stretched national health system, will not be suspended.
All sporting events must be played behind closed doors. The decree does not specify particular events, but soccer authorities have confirmed that it concerns all professional soccer games.
The decree says gyms, swimming pools and sports centres can remain open if people can maintain the one-metre safety distance.
Those who have travelled to red-zone areas worst-hit by the virus can be told to stay at home in quarantine for two weeks by doctors. If they show symptoms of the illness, they must wear a mask and stay in their room with the door closed.
The government recommends that elderly people and those with precarious health conditions should stay at home unless strictly necessary. It provides no specific age recommendation.
ACCESS TO ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS
Those accompanying patients to A&E units are not allowed to stay with them in the waiting rooms without specific permission.
INCENTIVES TO SMART WORKING
The government said it would loosen rules for home working, saying anyone who can do their jobs from their house should be allowed to do so.