Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced as of March 29 that the “very long” lockdown in Italy would gradually be lifted in phases. In his address to the press, PM Conte declared extension to the quarantine measures to contain coronavirus pandemic, which was imposed until the April 8. Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia confirmed the government's decision to Italy's state television saying that the measures will be “inevitably” extended in view of the consistent surge in cases of COVID-19 and death toll across Italy.
Relaxing the lockdown would be irresponsible and inappropriate at this time, Francesco told the media. Italy is dealing with the economic crisis, has suspended business operations, to battle the mounting health crisis across the region. That’s more important, he stressed. Reports state that the ministers in consultation with the health officials reached a unanimous decision, as of March 28, the country recorded a six per cent dip in new cases.
Italy’s Deputy Finance Minister, Laura Castelli, was quoted by the Italian media as saying that the government’s 25 billion-euro ($28 billion) rescue plan had to be increased by at least 100 billion Euros, as the death toll in Italy jumped to 10,779, and over 97,689 were infected, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. Health Minister, Roberto Speranza, told reporters that Italy was second-worst hit by the pandemic, and it would be a blunder to guard down defenses. A medical advisor to Conte’s government, Luca Richeldi, told the press that the data reflecting slowdown was due to the quarantine measures. Therefore, ministers are expected to keep cities under the lockdown, partially, or in full, until the state of emergency was suspended by July 31, he added.
As local authorities had scrambled to put several cities, including Lombardy, the epicenter of the outbreak, under almost-total lockdown, military forces were called in to enforce movement restrictions, as per media reports. Lombardy Governor Attilio Fontana sought armed forces assistance to seal Milan, Italy’s financial hub, and other regions including the southern Campania, Puglia, and Sicily. Up to 20,000 soldiers have since been deployed to mitigate the pandemic, Defense Minister, Lorenzo Guerini, told the press.