Italy imposes Easter lockdown amid COVID-19 spike
Italy will be placed under lockdown from March 15 through at least Easter weekend as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country, Italian health officials announced on Friday.
Why it matters: This is the second year the country has needed to impose lockdown measures over the Easter holiday due to COVID-19. Italy was the first in the world to implement a nationwide lockdown last year, CBS News reports.
Details: Seven of Italy's regions, including Rome and Milan, will move into the red zone, placing them under the country's strictest restrictions starting Monday, Reuters notes.
- Three regions were already designated red, meaning half of Italy's regions and the bulk of its population will see schools and non-essential retailers close and people unable to leave their homes for anything other than work or emergency purposes.
- The entire country will become a red zone from April 3 through April 5 — Easter weekend.
- Context: Italy designates restrictions based on a color-coded system (white, yellow, orange and red being the highest) that specifies local infection levels.
What they're saying: The "measures are necessary to avoid a deterioration that would make even more stringent measures inevitable," Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said, per CBS.
- He added that the latest restrictions would come with financial help, "as well as the acceleration of the vaccine program, which alone gives hope of an exit from the pandemic."
The country's vaccine campaign got underway in late December, but much like other countries across Europe the rollout has been plagued by distribution delays.
- On Friday, Italy's health agency approved the use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine, with hopes that the shots be delivered within the next month, per Reuters.
- Premier Mario Draghi’s office on Saturday setting a goal to have 80% of the population vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September, AP writes.
By the numbers: Italy reported a total of 3,175,807 coronavirus cases on Friday, compared to the approximately 3,067,000 total reported cases the week prior, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
- The country has seen more than 101,ooo deaths throughout the pandemic as of Friday.