Italy's prime minister puts whole country on coronavirus lockdown

Kathryn Krawczyk

Italian Prime Minister Giusseppe Conte has instituted a travel ban across the whole country as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to grow.

Mandates barring public gatherings of any size and any nonessential travel will go into effect Tuesday morning, Conte announced Monday. People will only be allowed to leave their homes for family emergencies, essential work, and to seek health care — an unprecedented step for a democratic country.

Conte's "I Stay Home" decree bars weddings, funerals, all sporting events, and any other kind of public gathering. Schools will also remain closed until April 3. The decision comes after Italy announced Monday its death toll from the new coronavirus had rocketed from 97 to 463. These strict conditions had previously been in place in northern Italy, where COVID-19 first spread in the country.

"The right decision is to stay home" to protect people more vulnerable to the virus, Conte said. "The future of Italy is in our hands."

Italy's Olympic Committee barred all sporting competitions earlier Monday, and said it would seek a national decree to back up its decision.

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