US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — The Italian government plans to close schools and universities across the country until mid-March as part of the effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, government sources said on Wednesday.
The closure would come into effect on Thursday, but the decision has not yet been finalized, said the Minister of Education.
A similar measure has already been applied for ten days to the regions most affected by the epidemic, in northern Italy, where two “red zones” have been quarantined at the same time, one encompassing ten localities in Lombardy, the other, more restricted, in Veneto.
These provisions have not prevented the virus from spreading.
At the last score, Tuesday, the Civil Protection agency counted more than 2,500 confirmed cases, including 79 fatal. And the virus is present in 19 of the 20 Italian regions.
A draft decree, which Reuters was able to consult, also proposes “the suspension of events of any kind which involve the concentration of people and do not allow compliance with a safety distance of at least one meter”.
The text provides in particular for the closure of cinemas and theaters.
The proposed closure of schools and universities is not included in this decree.
The President of the Italian Council, Giuseppe Conte, is expected to formalize this new arsenal to fight the spread of the virus after a meeting scheduled for Wednesday with regional governors.
Another sign of growing concern, the sports minister said on Wednesday that the government is likely to order all matches in Serie A, the first division championship, to be played behind closed doors.
The employers’ organization representing tourism players, Conf Turismo, said on Wednesday that the sector was “on its knees”.
He expects a drop of around 32 million in the number of foreign and Italian tourists over the twelve months up to March, which would represent a shortfall that the Conf Turismo figures at 7.4 billion euros.
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