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Italy’s COVID-19 And Economic Contingency Measures

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Italy's COVID-19 And Economic Contingency Measures

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Italy, is on the road to recovery, as it appears from the decreasing numbers in both new cases and fatalities, especially compared to just approximately 7 days prior to April 9th.

Regardless, however, this was achieved through severe measures, limiting the movement of individuals and enforcing social isolation.

The government’s decisions are enforced across all regions.

These include the closure of all bars, restaurants, gyms, shopping malls and similar establishments that can see a concentration of people.

The self-isolation is imposed in the following form: you need a printed-out form that an individual has to fill out each time, and it contains information of where specifically the person is going and what is the purpose of going there.

The reasons include going to work if the job is essential, or just going for groceries, and only if it’s not too far, potentially walking a pet, and only near one’s house.

One can only walk their pet up to 200 meters from home.

Only the nearest stores are the places that one could go shopping, if there’s a brand of pasta they’d want from another store, on the other side of town, they will have to wait until after the epidemic is contained.

Also, no more than 2 units of a specific product can be purchased at any one shopping trip.

There are fines for each and every violation. The initial fines of up to 206 euro was not serious enough as many people appeared to disregard them and do whatever they pleased.

As of March 24th, Italian premier Giuseppe Conte announced the latest measures in a live-streamed address on 24 March, saying that those found on the streets without a legitimate reason to be out will now face fines of between €400 and €3,000.

The penalty is even harsher for those who have tested positive for Coronavirus and break the outright ban on leaving their house: they face between one and five years in jail on charges of crimes against public health.

The decree sets July 31st as the end of the state of emergency but Conte was quick to assure Italians that they would not be locked up in their houses until that date. It is unlikely that it would be as severe until then, since the situation in the next few weeks is likely to significantly improve, as it already is beginning to.

Regardless, over the April 4th and 5th weekend approximately 7,000 fines were issued on citizens not respecting the rules.

City police have lists of families who are either infected with the virus or have contacted patients.

Since they are not allowed to leave the house, the police bring them groceries. If they leave the house, a criminal case is instituted.

Regions and cities are responsible for the operation of hospitals, the necessary transport and other utilities.

More stringent measures may also be introduced. For example, a week ago Lombardy and Venetto imposed a ban on leaving the house without masks, and a fine was introduced for violations.

There are no rules closing the borders between regions in Italy, since there’s little movement even when there’s no pandemic.

If you need to move to another region, you need to fill out a special form.

Enterprises take various measures. Many force employees to take paid leave. Some enterprises retain (part of) the wages, a very minimal amount.

Large enterprises, like Ferrero, keep full pay. It all depends on the size of enterprises. The government will also cover 100-euro bonuses for lower-paid employees, which are to be paid directly by employers along with regular wages in April.

Self-employed and seasonal workers such as tour guides can apply for a 600-euro payment for the month of March to help protect them from the fallout as business dries up.

Applications opened on April 1 via the INPS (social security office) website – however, there were so many applications on the first day that the website crashed.

The self-employed who have to take time off work to look after their kids can also receive “parental leave” payments that cover up to half of their declared monthly incomes.

In a later decree, the government also released some 400 million euros for mayors to give out in in the form of food vouchers to those who can’t afford groceries. They are to be distributed by local authorities to those who are most in need.

The vouchers are intended only for those who have no income and are unable to afford even basic necessities, and are likely to be means-tested.

Families are to be issued 600-euro vouchers to go towards the expense of having to hire babysitters to look after kids that will be out of school at least until April 3.

While there have been reports that mortgage payments would be suspended, not everyone will be able to benefit from this measure.

The self-employed and freelancers with mortgages can ask to have their payments suspended for up to 18 months if they can prove that their incomes fell by at least one third. However, banks do not necessarily always agree to this.

The government is compensating shop owners for forced closures by offering them tax credits to cover 60% of their March rent payment.

A large part of the 25-billion-euro emergency fund will be used for healthcase and emergency services, ministers said. As well as funding for intensive care beds and equipment, this includes 150 million euros towards paying overtime for health workers.

As for the criminal situation in the country, about a week ago, the media noted a decrease in theft by 70%.

However, an important issue is the growing influence of mafia groups in the south.

In the south, a large number of people worked informally and now do not receive state assistance.

Increasingly, in supermarkets, people cannot pay for groceries. In such a situation, people are forced to turn to mafia groups, take “loans” from them in order to survive.

As in France, they talk a lot about domestic violence and take measures to prevent it, for example, introduce emergency numbers. However, there is no de facto surge in violence.

The general situation is somewhat calm, with normality yet to return, but it doesn’t specifically appear too far into the future.

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