16 Million Italians Begin Lockdown as Death Toll Hits Six-month High

In parts of Italy, 16 million people went into lockdown Friday as the country moved to prevent another wave of coronavirus in hard-hit areas despite stiff opposition from local authorities. Italian health authorities have zoned the country into red, orange and yellow, depending on identified risk factors — red for high risk and yellow for low risk. Lombardy, Piedmont and Aosta Valley in the north as well as Calabria in the south are considered high risk and are in the red zone. These regions closed all nonessential businesses and activities. Residents may leave their homes only for work, medical reasons or emergencies, and essential shopping. Mayors like Calabria’s have pushed back against the red zone restrictions, expected to last 15 days, which halt bar, restaurant and gym operations. Restaurants may provide only takeout service. Mask-wearing is encouraged: People wearing masks may briefly step out of their homes to exercise. Meanwhile, hairdressers can keep their shops open. Italy’s Health Ministry reported a record 37,809 cases on Friday after performing more than 234,000 swab tests in 24 hours. The ministry said this new infection record, which was 9% higher than the previous day, was accompanied by 445 deaths, the highest daily death toll in six months. The densely populated Lombardy region contributed nearly 10,000 cases. People who live in medium-risk regions, such as Puglia and Sicily in the south, can move about freely in their region but cannot travel outside their region. In the yellow zone, including Rome, only the national restrictions apply. The national restrictions include a nighttime curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. In addition, schoolchildren age 12 and older have switched to remote learning. Italy has reported a total of more than 862,681 coronavirus cases, with a total death toll of 40,638, the sixth highest in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics. 

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