NEWS
10/03/2020 9:21 AM AEDT | Updated 10/03/2020 9:42 AM AEDT

Coronavirus: Italy Extends Lockdown To Entire Country

Ban on public gatherings had been in place only in the north until new decree.

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Empty streets in Venice, Italy as the city's residents are under quarantine.

Updated: See the latest stories on the coronavirus outbreak.

Italy has put all of the country on lockdown due to the spread of coronavirus.

On Sunday, the stay-at-home decree had been placed on 16 million people in the north of the country – more than a quarter of its population – for nearly a month to halt the relentless march of the new coronavirus across Europe.

But the hardline move has now been extended to the entire country.

Weddings and museums, cinemas and shopping centres are all affected by the new restrictions.

Italian premier Giuseppe Conte said all people in Italy would need to demonstrate a need to work, health conditions or other limited reasons to travel outside the areas where they live.

Inbound and outbound travellers on flights, will have to justify their travel.

Temporary visitors will be allowed to leave the country.

“There won’t be just a red zone,” he told reporters, referring to a lockdown of areas in northern Italy instituted over the weekend.

“There will be Italy” as a protected area, he said.

The restrictions will take effect on Tuesday and will last until April 3, he said.

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.

Closed shops, plunging stock markets and prison riots marked the first day after Italy locked down much of its northern region.

Faced with Europe’s worst outbreak of the highly contagious virus, Italy imposed strict controls on travel from the northern region of Lombardy and parts of neighbouring Veneto, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna.

The government also ordered cinemas, theatres and museums to close, cancelled sporting events and told shops and restaurants to ensure that patrons remained at least a metre apart.

Parliament has virtually closed down due to contagion fears, meeting just once a week to prevent a huge backlogue of work.

The number of recorded cases jumped by 24% over the past 24 hours to 9,172 while the number of deaths rose 26.5% to 463, putting Italy’s health system under massive strain.

On Saturday night, alarmed at rumours over a quarantine in the north, many Italians fled the targeted regions in the northern ‘red zone’.

About 16 million residents live in that first lockdown area in the north, in populous Lombardy, which includes Milan, and 14 provinces including Venice.