Italy Imposes New Coronavirus Lockdowns, Bans Travel Between Regions

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Italy became the latest country in Europe to impose new lockdown measures after a wave of new coronavirus cases swept through the country, the Italian government announced Wednesday according to the New York Times.

Six regions will be sealed off beginning Friday, Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte said according to the Times. The regions of Lombardy, Piedmont, and Aosta Valley are located in the northwest, and the regions of Calabria, Puglia, and the island of Sicily are located in the southern part of Italy. (RELATED: Italy Approves Economic Stimulus, Providing Relief To Families And Businesses)

“The situation is particularly critical,” Conte said at a press conference. He described the pace that the virus is spreading at as “strong and even violent,” the Times reported.

Under the new restrictions, which are the strictest since March, people living within the six regions are prohibited from crossing borders except for work, health, or “situations of necessity,” Conte said. Bars, restaurants, and non-essential retail businesses will be shut down, and movement within the regions will be severely restricted.

Italy will be divided into red, orange, and yellow zones, each with varying coronavirus restrictions. The government will perform a weekly analysis to determine how the country will be divided.

“There is a high probability that some regions will exceed the critical limits in intensive care units,” which makes the restrictions necessary, Conte said according to the Times. “We necessarily have to intervene.”

Earlier Wednesday, the Italian government announced a country-wide 10:00 PM curfew, along with closing museums and high schools. Shopping malls would be closed on the weekends, the Times reported.

The lockdown measures have been met with pushback from people who believe the restrictions are too harsh. Thousands of people protested in the northern city of Turin against new lockdown restrictions in late October. Demonstrators also gathered in Milan for an anti-lockdown protest, where police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Italy has had 731,588 coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic and 39,059 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker.