Four Italian regions are being put under "red-zone" lockdown, with severe limits imposed on the circumstances under which people can leave home, Premier Giuseppe Conte announced on Wednesday night, the AP reports. What he called "very stringent" restrictions begin on Friday for Lombardy, Piedmont, and Valle d'Aosta in the north, and for Calabria, which forms the southern toe of the Italian peninsula. The lockdown is aimed at tamping down a surge in COVID-19 infections and preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed with cases. Lasting at least two weeks, it will involve some 16.5 million of Italy’s 60 million residents and include the country's financial capital, Milan. Barring very few exceptions, no one will be able to leave or enter the "red zone" regions.
People there must stay home, except to go to work or shop for essentials. They can also exercise near their homes and while wearing masks. After days of consultations with regional governors, Health Minister Roberto Speranza decided which regions received the "red-zone" designation. "I know that these choices will mean sacrifices and difficulties, but they are the only way to bend the (contagion) curve," he said in a statement. "United, we can do it." Barber shops and hair salons can stay open, although other non-essential shops in the "red zone" must close. The New York Times reports that the lockdown is Italy's worst since March, and includes the northern regions "that are its economic engine."
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