Italian Woman Fined for Taking Her Turtle for a Walk During Coronavirus Quarantine

A 60-year-old woman has been fined for breaking Italy's lockdown measures—her excuse: she was walking her pet turtle.

According to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, police found the woman outside her home on Monday. When asked to present justification for breaking quarantine, she said she had left her house to take her turtle for a walk. The reason was not considered satisfactory and she was fined €400 ($430).

Italy has been in lockdown since March 9 and this is not the first time residents have broken protocol. As Newsweek previously reported, a 31-year-old man from San Fermo della Battaglia was fined in March after flouting the lockdown rules to play "Pokemon Go." Some 16,545 fines were issued on Easter Monday alone.

Law-abiding residents have entertained themselves and others stuck inside during the lockdown by making music and singing opera.

But after more than a month in lockdown, the country is gearing up to loosen restrictions with certain businesses—including book, stationery and children's clothing shops—being permitted to reopen in some regions from Tuesday. These stores will still be required to carry out strict hygiene practices. According to the government's five-point plan for reopening businesses, policies around social distancing may stay in place for some time.

But despite some easing of restrictions, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed plans to extend the lockdown until May 3 last Friday. Conte said that while experts have confirmed that the number of new infections is decreasing, ending the lockdown must be a gradual process

"We cannot lower our guard," he told the BBC. "We cannot go from a lockdown to liberalizing all economic activity. We need to do it gradually."

Under the lockdown, Italians have been unable to travel unless they demonstrate it is necessary for work or health reasons, with police patrolling the streets to ensure residents are keeping to the restrictions.

Italians are allowed out to buy food and medication, and to go for a walk, but must carry a certificate giving their reasons for being outside the house. As Newsweek previously reported, anyone found in violation of these policies can be fined or even sentenced to jail time.

The purpose of these measures has been to protect people vulnerable to COVID-19 from contracting the virus. Italy has had the second-highest number of reported deaths from COVID-19 in the world—just behind the U.S. where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 21,942 people have died as of April 13.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 20,400 fatalities in Italy as of April 6, but things appear to be turning around. On Sunday, the country had the lowest number of reported deaths (525) in over two weeks.

In a statement sent to Newsweek, the Provincial Command of Rome confirmed the Carabinieri had found the women while conducting regular checks.

"Upon requesting certification, the 60-year-old provided the singular justification, reporting that she had left the house to take a walk with her regularly owned turtle.

"The administrative sanction for the non-compliance with current legislation aimed at limiting the contagion of COVID-19 virus has been triggered for the woman."

The article has been updated to include a statement from the Provincial Command of Rome.

Turtle
Hermann turtle walking on the path stock photo. An Italian woman was fined after she left her house to walk a tortoise. erol savci/iStock

The below infographic from Statista shows the number of COVID-19 cases reported worldwide as of April 14, 2020.

global COVID-19 virus cases, April 14, 2020
The spread of the COVID-19 virus outbreak across the globe. Statista

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.