Four Italian territories, including Milan, are closed

Four Italian territories, including Milan, are closed

ROME (AP) – Four Italian territories are subject to a “red-zone” lockdown, with Premier Giuseppe Conte announcing on Wednesday night that there will be strict restrictions on people leaving their homes.

He will launch “very strict” restrictions on Friday in northern Lombardy, Piedmont, Valle di Aosta and the southern toes of the Italian peninsula, Calabria.

The lockdown is aimed at reducing the incidence of COVID-19 infections and preventing hospitals from getting cases. It will include 16.5 million of Italy’s 60 million inhabitants, lasting at least two weeks, and Milan, the country’s financial capital.

Except for a few exceptions, no one can leave or enter the “Red Zone” areas. People there should stay at home instead of going to work or buying essentials. They can exercise near homes and while wearing masks.

After days of consultations with local governors, the health ministry has decided which areas will receive “red-zone” status.

“I know these elections will mean sacrifices and hardships, but they are the only way to bend the (contagious) disease,” he said in a statement. “United, we can do it.”

Barber shops and hair salons may be open, but other non-essential shops in the “Red Zone” must remain closed.

In southern Sicily and Puglia there are strict restrictions on movement, where people can leave their homes, but cannot travel between cities or areas, and can only take out and deliver to cafes and restaurants.

While classrooms are open in Italy except for high schools, remote instruction is required, with in-class instruction only for the “red zone”, nursery, elementary and first year of middle school.

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The latest crackdown was supposed to start on Thursday, but Conte said it would start on Friday instead of allowing time to organize. Positions will be reviewed every two weeks.

He added that previously announced measures nationwide, such as the closure of the museum and a one-night curfew, would begin a day later on Friday and last until December 3.

Conte promised later this week that his center-left government would release more funds to help businesses damaged by the latest closures.

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Follow AP Pandemic Coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak

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