Funeral-goers in Sicily face fines and prison after breaking quarantine rules

Funeral-goers in Sicily face fines and prison after breaking quarantine rules
Some 50 people in Sicily are facing stiff penalties after disobeying newly-imposed national quarantine rules and holding a funeral in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak.

The sombre procession was moving through the streets of Porto Empedocle on the island's southwestern coast on Tuesday when the carabinieri police were alerted by a passerby, the AGI news agency said.

The 48 mourners will face prosecution in nearby Agrigento. Each person found to have broken the quarantine rules can be fined 206 euros ($234) and even jailed for up to three months.

Italy on Tuesday unveiled unprecedented social containment measures aimed at halting the spread of a disease that has killed 463 people and infected more than 9,000 in the country in just over three weeks.

Headlines in Italian newspapers on Tuesday March 10th. Photo: AFP

Emergency measures had initially been imposed on the worst-hit regions in the north, including Lombardy, which has seen the biggest number of cases and deaths during the outbreak.

But on Monday evening, after it was announced the death toll had risen by 97 to a total of 463, the government said the measures would be imposed nationwide.

READ ALSO: 'Can I go outside?': Your questions about the coronavirus quarantine rules in Italy

The new rules include a ban on public gatherings, including funerals as well as weddings and other civil or religious ceremonies.

Sicily is one of the less affected areas of Italy. The southern island has so far registered only 54 infections and no deaths due to the coronavirus.

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