Italy greenlights €2.9bn aid package amid new lockdown restrictions

LaToya Harding
·3-min read
A picture shows a general view of an almost empty Piazza del Duomo in center Milan on November 7, 2020.
The Lombardy region, which includes Milan, is in the "red" zone. It was the worst-hit area in Italy during the first lockdown earlier in March. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images

The Italian government has approved a new aid package to combat the financial chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic as it introduces fresh lockdown measures across the country.

Cabinet agreed the package, worth €2.9bn ($3.4bn, £2.6bn), late on Friday Reuters said, citing a person familiar with the matter.

It came as a response to Italy imposing new lockdown restrictions within the country as it tries to curb a resurgence of COVID-19 infections. On Thursday it tallied its highest daily number of both infections (35,505) and deaths (445).

These figures "are not a good sign," said Gianni Rezza, director of the prevention department at the health ministry. "The virus is running and we have to stop it."

The government has divided the nation into three zones according to how severe the outbreak is in that region.

The colour-coded zones are labelled as “red” for high risk, which include areas such as Lombardy, Piedmont, Calabria and Aosta Valley, followed by “orange” and then “yellow”.

The Lombardy region includes Milan which was the worst-hit area in Italy during the first lockdown earlier in March.

Within the red-zoned districts, people can only leave their homes for work, essential shopping or emergencies. All non-essential shops are shut.

In the orange zones shops remain open but people are not allowed to leave their home cities.

The entire country has a nighttime curfew, however, with bars and restaurants closing at 6pm.

READ MORE: What the new lockdown rules mean for UK businesses

The new aid package delays the spring tax payments due in November and boosts transfers to companies operating in the regions classed as red or orange, the newswire reported.

It also provides funds for childcare or work leave for parents who are unable to work from home.

The government recently moved classes for high schools and the last two years of middle school online.

Restrictions across the rest of Europe have also tightened over the winter months.

The UK has banned foreign entry to visitors from Denmark amid widespread outbreaks of COVID-19 in the country’s mink farms, as of 4am on Saturday.

All non-British national or resident travellers who have been in or transited through Denmark in the last 14 days will be denied entry into Britain.

The government also said its expanding the self-isolation rules for Denmark, it also removed the country from the government’s list of travel corridors on Friday.

Visitors arriving into the UK from Denmark will not be permitted entry into the UK.

Grant Shapps, UK’s transport secretary, said on Twitter: “This decision to act quickly follows on from health authorities in Denmark reporting widespread outbreaks of coronavirus in mink farms. Keeping the UK public safe remains our top priority,”

Watch: Italian regions latest to enter lockdown as virus grips Europe