SARS-CoV-2: Italy in lockdown

Italy's government has expanded the lockdown of 15 provinces in the "red zone" in the north to the whole country in a bid to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. All public institutions are closed and all sport events have been cancelled. The death toll has climbed to more than 460. Commentators say the country's citizens also share responsibility for this drastic step.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

An unprecedented decision

At last Italy is taking radical measures to protect the health of all its citizens, La Repubblica comments approvingly:

“To protect this 'primary and universal good', as the Prime Minister - who finally found the right words - put it, we all have a duty to defend ourselves and even sacrifice that which is most dear and precious: our daily freedom ... This is a decision without precedent in history. … And not only in Italy. No other country in the world has ever sealed itself off within its borders, blocked movement within the country, banned all forms of public meeting and private demonstrations, closed stadiums and museums, cinemas and theatres, businesses and companies. But the reasons for this shock therapy are clear and objective. The infection is not slowing down but spreading.”

HuffPost Italia (IT) /

If they won't listen ...

The measure was necessary because the Italians are too undisciplined to follow the rules, HuffPost Italia complains:

“During the meeting with all the presidents of the regions, Minister Francesco Boccia [in charge of the regions and autonomy] was stony-faced as he showed all those present an advertisement from a ski resort in Abetone [Tuscany]: 'School-free. Come and ski for one Euro'. The presidents of the regions then admitted that in recent days many people have interpreted the virus curfew as a holiday: with Milanese going skiing in South Tyrol, Ligurians heading to Tuscany, young people continuing to go to bars without respecting the rules of distance and caution. The paralysis of the nation is therefore also a necessary consequence of a lack of civic spirit: an obedience imposed by the state power to compensate for the lack of a sense of personal responsibility.”

Magyar Hírlap (HU) /

Paying for lack of credibility

In Italy trust in politicians is also lacking, says the pro-government daily Magyar Hírlap:

“Perhaps the current situation in Italy reflects the loss of prestige of politics. The average Italian doesn't put most of his energy into sticking to the rules but rather trying to get around them. Not because he is a born tax cheat or a scoundrel, but because year after year he goes through the experience of losing out in this game. So in the current health emergency situation the government's calls on the public to stay at home if possible and to avoid any contact that might allow the virus to spread further were apparently in vain.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Fear not always a good adviser

As soon as news of the quarantine got out, hundreds of people rushed to Milano Centrale train station in an attempt to flee the quarantine zone. As irresponsible as such behaviour is, it's also entirely understandable, columnist Antonio Polito argues in Corriere della Sera:

“Let's stop accusing each other. We all make mistakes, some bigger than others. Otherwise things would never have gone this far. But we all have one justification: fear. ... It makes no sense to try to tackle the virus with ostentatious optimism. It's better to fear it. To hide yourself away. Those born in the South who travelled home by train at night are certainly in the wrong. They risk bringing the virus to relatives and friends in communities that have remained relatively untouched by it so far. But they're also fleeing the prospect of falling sick, perhaps alone, far from home.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Act responsibly and accept restrictions

As citizens we must do all we can to comply with the state of emergency, columnist Luigi La Spina urges in La Stampa:

“The enemy is insidious but not invincible, because the danger lies not so much in the disease's mortality rate but in the speed and scale of its transmission. It's difficult for our health system to treat the sick adequately and in a timely manner. ... If people don't do all they can to comply with the call to stay at home, restrict their social contacts and comply with the necessary hygiene rules, it's clear that the ultimate, extreme measure will be the implementation of a generalised curfew that would paralyse the entire nation.”