Italy extends COVID-19 state of emergency



An Italian soldier patrols by a check-point at the entrance of the small town of Vo Vecchio, northern Italy, on February 24, 2020. Aggressive testing and quarantine appears to have quelled the outbreak. /AFP

Premier Giuseppe Conte's cabinet met on Wednesday to extend Italy's COVID-19 state of emergency until January 31 and approve a decree with new measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. This is according to the sources.

The state of emergency, among other things, gives special powers to governors and other public bodies, making it possible, for example, to create 'red zones' sealing off areas where a coronavirus outbreak has occurred.

The obligation to respect coronavirus-prevention measures, such as social distancing of at least one metre with people you do not live with, the use of facemasks and frequent hand washing and the obligation to stay at home if you have fever of 37.5° or more, remains too for the time being.

The new measures, include the obligation to wear facemasks outside, rather than only in enclosed public spaces, if you are in an area where you will come close to people you do not live with.

Additionally, it is now obligatory to wear a facemask in all enclosed spaces, except for the home, sources said.

Several regions, such as Lazio, the region around Rome, and Campania, have already made facemasks obligatory outside after an upswing in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

The government is also extending the obligation for people arriving in Italy from Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium to have a swab for the coronavirus.

This obligation was already in force for arrivals from Croatia, Greece, Malta, Spain and from Paris and seven French regions.

(With input from agencies)