Premier Giuseppe Conte has extended Italy’s nationwide lockdown and industrial shutdown for another 10 days until April 13, arguing that the coronavirus emergency is far from over even if the rate of new infections is starting to slow.
Conte said Wednesday that if Italy were to ease its restrictions now, before the virus is fully under control, “all our efforts would be in vain and we would pay a high price — psychologically, economically and socially — because we’d be forced to start over.”
Italy went into nationwide lockdown on March 10, after a preliminary quarantine of a dozen small towns in northern Italy failed to stop the virus’ spread. Last week, Italy became the first western developed nation to idle all but essential industry, adding to a production shutdown that industrial lobby Confindustria forecasts will result in a 6% drop in GDP that could provoke a depression.
On Wednesday, Conte signed a new decree extending the shutdown until at least April 13. Conte said he knew it was asking a lot of Italians in particular to refrain from Easter celebrations April 12 but assured them that the government was already at work gaming out how Italy can begin slowly reopening once infections show a sustained decline.
He said the next phase would be living with the virus amid some activity and working toward a final phase of economic reconstruction.
Italy has seen a leveling off in the exponential growth of virus infections this week, registering 4,782 confirmed new infections for a total of 110,574. Italy’s death toll remains the highest in the world at 13,155.