Coronavirus: Italy charges nearly 110,000 people for breaking lockdown rules as tougher sanctions introduced

Conrad Duncan
Local police officers check on people at the Highway exit for Molfetta, southern Italy: REUTERS

Italy has charged nearly 110,000 people for breaking lockdown measures introduced to control its ongoing coronavirus crisis.

As the country continued to record hundreds more deaths each day this week, thousands were still being caught violating measures designed to slow the spread of Covid-19, according to official figures.

More than 8,000 people were reported by authorities on Tuesday — bringing the total number of people reported to 109,964 — as the Italian police force checked about 228,000 people in one day to make sure the public were following the measures.

Earlier this week, ministers approved an emergency decree to introduce tougher sanctions for anyone who ignores the lockdown.

Those who violate the containment measures could receive a fine of between €400 (£360) and €3,000 (£2,700); a significant increase from the previous maximum fine of €206 (£187).

In addition, anyone who has been quarantined after testing positive for Covid-19 and “intentionally violates” the order to stay in their home could face a prison sentence between one to five years, according to the decree.

The stricter measures were introduced after Italy recorded the highest death toll from coronavirus in the world with more than 7,500 reported fatalities, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre.

Italy has introduced some of the toughest measures in the world to control Europe’s worst outbreak, banning nonessential movement within the country and closing all nonessential businesses.

Although the country’s government has said it will extend its quarantine period beyond the original deadline of 3 April,the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said on Tuesday he was “very confident” that Italians could go back to some normality before the current state of emergency expires on 31 July.

“The state of emergency for six months does not mean restrictions last until 31 July,” Mr Conte said.

“We are ready to loosen the measures at any moment, we hope very soon.”

Italy has recorded nearly 75,000 Covid-19 cases, as of Thursday morning, and is close to becoming the country with the most confirmed cases in the world.

China, which had the first major outbreak of coronavirus earlier this year, has recorded 81,736 cases but has seen very few new cases in recent weeks after it introduced a severe lockdown to contain the virus.

Chinese authorities have begun lifting travel restrictions this week in Hubei province, the area where Covid-19 was first identified.

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