New lockdown restrictions went into effect in Italy on Monday, as COVID-19 cases are surge throughout Europe in what appears to be a third wave of infections.
Ten Italian regions are now designated as “red zones,” meaning half of the country’s regions and more than half of its population will be under the most severe restrictions, Reuters reported. Before Monday, three regions had the designation.
Under the restrictions, schools and non-essential shops stores will be closed, and individuals will only be permitted to leave their homes for work, health or emergency reasons, the news service noted.
Over Easter weekend, however, the entire country will be labeled a “red zone,” and it will be bound by a national lockdown from April 3 to April 5, according to CNN.
The restrictions, which were outlined by the Italian health ministry on Friday, will stay in effect until April 6. In a news conference the same day, the countrys prime minister, Mario Draghi, said Italy was facing a new wave of contagion, fueled by more infectious variants of the coronavirus, The New York Times reported.
I am aware that todays measures will have an impact on childrens education, on the economy but also on the psychological state of us all, Draghi said on Friday, according to the Times. But they are necessary to avoid a worsening that will make inevitable even more stringent measures.
Last winter, Italy was the first country to impose a nationwide lockdown, CBS News noted.
The latest development comes as COVID-19 cases are rising throughout Europe. Vaccine efforts could also be complicated as four more countries on Monday paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports that some individuals immunized were having blood clots.
The British pharmaceutical company, however, has said there is no evidence that links the vaccine to blood clots.