Coronavirus: Italy put on total lockdown with Brits told not to visit

10 March 2020, 00:01

Italy has been placed on total lockdown
Italy has been placed on total lockdown. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

All of Italy is on lockdown amid a serious coronavirus outbreak, with Brits advised against "all but essential travel" to the European nation.

Until now, the lockdown had only covered the Lombardy region and 14 provinces in neighbouring regions, but has now been extended to the whole country.

The Foreign Office issued a statement saying anyone who returns to the UK from Italy should immediately go into self-isolation.

A spokesperson said: "We have amended our travel advice to recommend against all but essential travel to Italy.

"The safety of British nationals is always our number one priority.

"The advice is that anyone who arrives from Italy subsequent to Italian government decision should now self-isolate for 14 days."

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St Mark's Square in Venice is deserted as people try to avoid catching coronavirus
St Mark's Square in Venice is deserted as people try to avoid catching coronavirus. Picture: PA

People will only be permitted to travel for work or family emergencies from Tuesday in a bid to slow the Covid-19 outbreak.

There have been 9,172 people confirmed cases in the country, the second highest after China, with 463 deaths.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte Conte announced the new measures on Monday.

He said: "We have adopted a new decision based on an assumption: there is no time.

"The numbers tell us that we are having an important growth of the infections, of the people hospitalised in intensive and sub-intensive care and alas also of the deceased people.

Thousands have been diagnosed with coronavirus
Thousands have been diagnosed with coronavirus. Picture: PA

"Our habits therefore must be changed. They must be changed now. I decided to take even more stringent measures immediately.

"I am about to sign a measure that we can summarise as 'stay at home'.

"There will no longer be a red area on the peninsula. Italy will be a protected area."

During the press conference at Palazzo Chigi, he added: "I am fully aware of the seriousness and responsibility. We can't afford to let our guard down. It's time for responsibility and we all have it.

"You citizens all with me. The right decision today is to stay home. Our future is in our hands."

Mr Conte also took to task young people in much of Italy who have been gathering at night to socialise during the public health emergency that started on February 21.

"This nightlife... we can't allow this any more," he said.

Pubs had been closed in northern Italy, with eateries and cafes also ordered to close at dusk. Now that crackdown is extended to the entire country.

All sporting events, including Serie A football matches will be suspended nationwide, with schools and universities remaining closed until April 3.