Italy Announces Strict Nationwide Coronavirus Lockdown Measures: 'Won't Just Be a Red Zone… There Will Be Italy'

Italian leaders on Monday expanded their coronavirus quarantine measures nationwide as the European country continues to struggle in containing the new virus' outbreak.

A "red zone" lockdown, implemented this weekend by the Italian government on 16 million people in the country's northern areas including Lombardy and 14 other states, has been expanded to the entire country. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday told reporters that "there won't just be a red zone... there will be Italy."

The new decree, which will go into effect Tuesday local time, will require all individuals in Italy to refrain from traveling unless they can demonstrate a need to work, health conditions or other limited reasons provided for in the order. It seeks to protect the elderly and fragile members of society from contracting the COVID-19 virus.

The measure also bans most public assemblies and cruise ships from docking at various ports. "No more nightlife; we can't allow this anymore since they are occasions for contagion," Conte said.

Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio explained that the measures first applied to Lombardy will now be expanded to the entire country. "Same precautionary measures in each region," he reportedly said.

Newsweek reached out to Di Maio's office for additional information.

#DiMaio: “Tutta #Italia come la Lombardia. Attueremo regole ferree”. Tradotto zona rossa e stesse misure cautelari in ogni regione. #CoVid_19

— Nicolò Schira (@NicoSchira) March 9, 2020

As the novel coronavirus continues to threaten most parts of the world, Italy has recently emerged as the worst-hit nation after China, where the virus originated. The official death rate in the European nation leaped from 97 to 463 on Monday, prompting Conte's decree. On Sunday, the number of individuals infected with the virus also increased from 7,375 to 9,172. All 20 regions of Italy now have reported cases of coronavirus.

Italy coronavirus
People wear face masks as they attend the live-broadcasting of Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus prayer during the Coronavirus emergency at Saint Peter's Square, on March 8, 2020 in Vatican City, Vatican. Antonio Masiello/Getty

During an address televised nationally on Monday, Conte advised Italians to remain at home during the outbreak while noting that citizens' "customs must change."

"We are having an important growth in infections... and of deaths," the country's prime minister said. "We all must give something up for the good of Italy. We have to do it now, and we'll only be able to if we all collaborate and adapt to these more stringent measures."

"This is why I decided to adopt even more strong and severe measures to contain the advance... and protect the health of all citizens," he added.

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

Hygiene advice

  • Wash 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 one meter (three 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

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask 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 mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.