Our reporters in Italy explain the new measures introduced by the Italian government to halt the advance of the deadly coronavirus.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte ordered all shops in the country to close except for grocery stores, pharmacies and few others until March 25. Public transportation as well as financial and postal services will continue, but the country’s normally vibrant restaurants, cafes and bars will be shut.
Factories can continue operating, but only with “precautions,” the premier said in a televised address on Wednesday evening. The government — which extended a lockdown for Lombardy and other northern provinces to all of Italy this week — also recommends non-critical facilities be closed.
CNH Industrial NV said it will shut down its Italian operations.
An official sprays disinfectant in public areas in Venice on March 11.
“Effects of those measures will be seen in couple of weeks, so cases can still increase in coming days,” he said, thanking Italians for their sacrifices.
With more than 12,000 cases of the disease in the country and deaths jumping 31% to 827 on Wednesday, Conte’s fragile government was under intense pressure to take more drastic measures from governors in the north — the economic engine of the country and the region hardest hit by the virus.
A deserted street in central Codogno, southeast of Milan, on March 11.
The benchmark FTSEMIB Index dropped as much as 6.1% at the open. The spread between 10-year Italian government bonds and their German equivalents rose 10 basis points to 202.
As a consequence of Conte’s latest emergency decree, all bars and restaurants will close, while food deliveries will be allowed to continue.
That may be of little help for unsettled Italians. Delivery times for food ordered from Esselunga SpA, one of Italy’s largest supermarket chains, are as long as nine days in Milan.
A near deserted Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade in central Milan on march 11.
With that background, Conte tried to reassure Italians that no more measures would be coming. He also tried to stem the risks of hoarding, saying there is no need for citizens to rush to buy food, adding that banking will be guaranteed.
About 70% of Italians supported the measures taken by the government, according to a SWG poll on March 10. Most said they were expecting even more restrictive actions, before the latest steps were approved.
Still, online shopping will be available without restrictions and Italians can also continue buying newspapers at their kiosks and tobacconists. Also electronic shops and gas stations are among the businesses that will remain open, while barber shops and hairdressers will shut down, according to the decree posted on the government’s website.
On the corporate side, most company annual meetings will be postponed or may be held via video calls, Corriere della Sera reported. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA was scheduled to present its board membership proposal on Thursday, the first since CEO Marco Morelli said he won’t seek to extend his term.
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