Italy imposes regional lockdown as coronavirus cases spike
Much of Italy will be placed under a strict lockdown as of Friday in the most drastic steps the country has taken to fight the coronavirus since it led the world into lockdown nearly eight months ago.
The big picture: Italy managed to keep the spread of the virus largely under control for months after a brutal first wave. But like much of Europe, it's currently recording unprecedented daily case counts and scrambling to avoid a return to overcrowded hospitals and climbing death tolls in the coming weeks.
Driving the news: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that the strictest policies would be implemented in four regions: Lombardy, Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta in the North, as well as Calabria in the south. Lombardy is home to Milan and accounts for one-fifth of Italy's GDP.
- Travel in and out of those regions will be banned except where absolutely necessary, while bars and restaurants will be closed. Sicily and Puglia will face a less strict quarantine, per AP.
- Conte has resisted a nationwide lockdown in favor of a tiered, regional approach, though he has recommended that all Italians remain home when possible and ordered most restaurants to close by 6pm.
- The new restrictions have been met by protests, in particular from the hospitality industry, which was just beginning to recover from the previous lockdown.