Italy has placed restrictions on travels just as the government banned marriages, funerals and all public gatherings in order to curtail spread of the novel coronavirus that has hit the nation hard.
The restriction which takes effect from Tuesday will run until April 3.
The unprecedented measure were extended from several large areas of the north to Italy’s entire population of more than 60 million in a decree signed Monday night.
“Today is our moment of responsibility. We cannot let our guard down,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a dramatic evening television address before signing the latest decree.
“Everyone must give up something to protect the health of citizens,” he said, adding that the measures could be summarised as follows: I stay at home”.
Under the new rules, travel is only allowed for the most urgent work or health reasons, but people will be able to return to their own homes from elsewhere.
Schools and universities were closed, while businesses were urged to give their employees leave.
Bars and restaurants were only allowed to open between 6 am and 6 pm, the decree said, and only if it was possible to keep a distance of at least a meter between customers.
Religious institutions will also stay open, as long as people can stay the same distance from each other — but ceremonies such as marriages, baptisms, and funerals are banned.
However, it was not immediately clear how all the new rules would be enforced.
Since the COVID-19 disease first emerged in China late last year, Italy has become Europe’s hardest-hit country and has seen a rapid rise in cases to more than 9,000, with 463 deaths so far.