Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced tighter restrictions to stop the spike in coronavirus infections, deaths
As of Wednesday, the numbers of infected shot up to 12,462. From that, 827 deaths have been recorded with most cases remaining in northern Italy. Now, the World Health Organization has declared the spread of COVID-19 as a pandemic.
“We are deeply concerned, both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the WHO at a press conference in Geneva.
After China, Italy has the most cases of COVID-19 infections. In hopes of reducing the numbers, PM Conte ordered for all shops to close except for markets and pharmacies. During his address to the nation, he encouraged residents not to “rush to supermarkets.”
“We are in a panic,” says a longtime Florentine to Ark Republic. “Everything changes so fast. We don’t know what’s going on. [But] some people are still going to bars and [going] out to eat. Stay indoors.”
| Read: La Zona Rossa Diaries: Black, American and quarantined in Italy |
The new normal
In Florence, a provincial city in the Tuscany region, officials shuttered dozens of museums and historical sites on Tuesday. However, children played in parks with their mothers or nannies watching them. Even, a handful of residents ate at restaurants with outdoor seating, seemingly nonplussed.
Doubt regarding the gravity of COVID-19 and the Conte Administration was a familiar sentiment in the initial days of the first reports of those infected.
“Now, people are scared and staying inside,” said a Florentine mother to a son who has asthma.
The introduction of more rigid restrictions comes just two days after the Conte Administration issued a nationwide quarantine ordinance on Monday. Outdoor movement is permitted from 6 am to 6 pm, while all public meeting places such as popular plazas and piazzas were shut down. Religious ceremonies and sporting events have been suspended, plus exhibition buildings and galleries were ordered to close. Just about anywhere crowds gathered, they are now prohibited.
In Italy, the local custom cherishes sitting with friends and chatting in public places. To curve that, authorities have removed seating and tables at key locations.
At grocery stores, employees already are practicing a crowd control method by allowing a certain number of patrons into the store. However, markets near popular sites like the Duomo, did not have one customer to manage.
“Italy is suffering. Our economy has tanked,” lamented the Florentine woman.
“It’s a money thing,” said a man who purchased several breads at a panetteria, a local bakery. “This is like a political stuff, it’s not a virus. We are the virus.”
Currently, Italy ranks as the fourth largest economy in Europe. The Conte Administration has committed €7.6 billion to a rescue plan.
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