NEWS
12/03/2020 8:38 AM AEDT | Updated 12/03/2020 8:43 AM AEDT

Coronavirus: Italy Orders All Shops To Close Apart From Pharmacies And Food Stores

European country worst-hit by disease makes further crackdown.

Italy has said all shops except pharmacies and food stores will be closed in response to the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

The move follows the entire country being placed in lockdown and the World Health Organisation declaring the global coronavirus crisis a pandemic.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the new restrictions to the lockdown on Wednesday after figures showed the country posting the highest daily increase in deaths of any country since the outbreak began.

In a televised address to the nation, Conte said all shops would be shuttered except supermarkets, food stores and chemists, and companies must close all their departments that are not essential to production.

Services such as hairdressers and beauty parlours will also be closed, along with bars and restaurants that cannot guarantee they can keep a distance of at least one metre between customers.

“We will only be able to see the effects of this great effort in a couple of weeks,” he said, referring to the daily bulletins announcing the number of new cases and deaths.

Elsewhere in Europe, Denmark shut all schools and universities after a 10-fold rise in cases since Monday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said up to 70% of the population was likely to be infected as the virus spreads around the world in the absense of a cure.

With Europe the new epicentre of the outbreak, the Trump administration is likely to discourage Americans from taking trips to Europe as soon as Wednesday, sources suggest.

There are now more than 121,000 infections in 118 countries and over 4,3000 people have died of the virus, according to a Reuters tally.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.