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Italy closes bars, restaurants and most shops as coronavirus death toll jumps 30%

Linda who is a beautician closes the shutter of her beauty center, which has been closed by new government regulations on March 11, 2020 in Rome, Italy.

Marco Di Lauro

Italy has tightened its nationwide lockdown further in response to the rising death toll from coronavirus, ordering all non-essential shops and services to close.

Announcing the measures Wednesday evening, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said supermarkets and pharmacies will be the only retailers to remain open in Italy.

The latest restrictions come as the virus death toll surged over 30% on Wednesday to more than 800 — the biggest daily jump since the start of the outbreak. Italy is already under a national lockdown restricting citizens’ movement and activities until April 3.

Conte said it was time to “go one step further” as he announced the closure of most commercial and retail activities with bars, restaurants and beauty salons among those ordered to shut. Public services remain in place and industrial production is allowed to continue, on condition that companies adopt safety measures to protect workers and prevent contagion.

A waiter closes a pizza shop due to few tourists attraction at 6 pm. in Rome, Italy, on March 11, 2020.

Riccardo De Luca | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The prime minister said the world was watching to see how Italy, now the country worst hit by the virus outside China, responds: “At this moment the whole world is certainly looking at us for the numbers of the contagion, they see a country that is in difficulty, but they also appreciate us because we are showing great strictness and great resistance,” Conte said in a Facebook address.

“I have a deep conviction. I would like to share it with you. Tomorrow not only will they look at us again and admire us, but they will take us as a positive example of a country that, thanks to its sense of community, has managed to win its battle against this pandemic.”

As of Wednesday evening, Italy recorded 12,462 confirmed cases of the virus, and 827 deaths, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University and Italy’s Civil Protection agency. The death toll from the virus a day earlier had been 631 people.

Pandemic plans

Conte had already announced earlier on Wednesday that the government will set aside even more money to tackle the outbreak, raising spending to 25 billion euros ($28.3 billion) — up from 7.5 billion euros announced last week. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday. There are at least 118,381 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, according to the latest figures from the WHO.  At least 4,292 people have died globally, the WHO said.