Coronavirus: Italy Bans Public Gatherings Across Whole Country, Limits Travel

BEVERLY HILLS, March 10, (THEWILL) – Travel was restricted across Italy from Tuesday and public gatherings were forbidden throughout the country as the government signed off on strict quarantine measures to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.

Marriages and funerals were banned for more than three weeks and bars and restaurants were told to close at 6 pm, with the prime minister urging people to “stay at home”.

The unprecedented measures, in place until April 3, were extended from several large areas of the north to Italy’s entire population of more than 60 million in a decree signed Monday night.

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Since the COVID-19 disease first emerged in China late last year, Italy has become Europe’s hardest-hit country and has seen a rapid rise in cases to more than 9,000, with 463 deaths so far.

“All forms of gatherings in public places or sites open to the public” were banned, the decree said, while sporting events of all levels and disciplines were cancelled — stopping play in the top-flight Serie A football league.

Under the new rules, travel is only allowed for the most urgent work or health reasons, but people will be able to return to their own homes from elsewhere.

Schools and universities were closed, while businesses were urged to give their employees leave.

Bars and restaurants were only allowed to open between 6 am and 6 pm, the decree said, and only if it was possible to keep a distance of at least a meter between customers.

Religious institutions will also stay open, as long as people can stay the same distance from each other — but ceremonies such as marriages, baptisms, and funerals are banned.