The nationwide coronavirus lockdown in Italy will be extended beyond its initial April 3 deadline, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Thursday, with government officials adding that further tightening of limits on movement could be on the cards.
“We have avoided a total collapse of our system,” the prime minister said in broadcast comments. “But the rigid measures taken by the government to counter the coronavirus emergency… will be extended beyond the deadline.”
Conte’s remarks came a day after Italian health officials announced that 475 people died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in a 24-hour span. That is the highest one-day death toll since the crisis began a month ago.
The statement was not in the form of a formal decree, and it was short on details. For example, it was not clear how far beyond the original April 3 deadline the current restrictions would be extended.
But government officials have been complaining for days that the current restrictions — which include the closing of schools, restaurants, bars, tourist sites, offices, cinemas, or any other place where crowds may gather in close proximity — have not been followed closely enough as Italy tries to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Now the limits will be extended and more strictly enforced.
According to Italian media reports, other government officials have said that restrictions could be tightened even further if current rules are not respected. That could include the closure of supermarkets on the weekends and the complete closure of parks and major squares and a restriction on movement for exercise.
Italy on Jan. 31 declared a six-month state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And a nationwide lockdown has been placed from March 10 to April 3 to stem the spread of the coronavirus.