The entire country of Italy has shut down as it attempts to slow the coronavirus outbreak and stem a rising death toll.
The Italian government announced new restrictions Wednesday, closing all nonessential shops and services aside from supermarkets and pharmacies. With 12,462 cases and 827 deaths, Italy is the worst-hit nation outside China, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The lockdown bans public gatherings and restricts travel only for urgent work situations, emergencies and health reasons.
With the restrictions in effect until April 3, schools and universities remain closed, but public services are still in place. Industrial production is also ongoing with safety measures in place to protect workers from getting sick. However, the country's tourism industry is at a standstill with closed landmarks and canceled flights, and there are concerns that the virus' impact on travel could extend to the summer tourist season.
Though Italy has third-largest economy in the euro zone, it is also laden with debt and had experienced financial struggles prior to the outbreak. JPMorgan now expects Italy's economy to contract 7.5% in the first quarter from the previous quarter. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Wednesday that the government is putting aside additional funds to fight the outbreak, boosting spending to 25 billion euros ($28.3 billion).
"At this moment the whole world is certainly looking at us for the numbers of the contagion. They see a country that is in difficulty, but they also appreciate us because we are showing great strictness and great resistance," Conte said in a Facebook address.