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How authorities are battling to keep Italians at home

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How authorities are battling to keep Italians at home
A man walks his dog as a car of the Italian National police patrols on March 19, 2020 in Rome during the lockdown within the new coronavirus pandemic: AFP

Confined to their homes for over a week, some Italians are getting restless. More than 53,000 people have been fined for flouting the rules, as the government fires on all cylinders, hoping to convince them to stay at home.


According to the decree announced by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on March 9, outings are only allowed for professional, health or food shopping reasons. Offenders can be imprisoned for up to three months or fined up to 206 euros ($220).

READ ALSO: More than 50,000 people in Italy charged with breaking quarantine rules

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the means used by Italian authorities to ensure compliance with its measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Fear of police

Roadblocks and street corner checks: the police are everywhere and carry out tens of thousands of checks every day to make sure that all trips outside are justified. Every person leaving his or her home must be in possession of a sworn statement explaining the reason, which must be legitimate.

The number of controls increases every day: 173,000 on Monday, 187,000 on Tuesday, 200,000 on Wednesday and over that number on Thursday. These police controls have resulted in 8,100, 8,300, 8,500 and 9,500 write-ups, respectively.

Media blitz

In the media and on social networks, the government is hammering home a very simple slogan: "Io resto a casa" ("I'm staying at home").

The slogan is written everywhere: in bright letters on the façade of the Pirellone, the famous skyscraper in Milan, on television ads, and also as a hashtag on the accounts of politicians and celebrities from the world of music, cinema and sport.

Many celebrities have filmed -- from home -- short spots aired on television encouraging people to stay inside.

In one, popular comedian Fiorello reclines on a red sofa, asking "Why don't we stay at home?"

"What's all this about going out and getting a drink? What a lousy thing," he says. "Stay at home, it's better. It's so nice on the couch!"


Several municipalities have opted for drones to spot Sunday strollers or the emergence of crowds. The mayor of Conegliano in the northeastern region of Veneto contracted with a private company to begin flying  drones starting on Saturday over the area's steep vineyard-covered hills, where the famous Prosecco is produced.

"I still see too many people who don't respect the decree," Mayor Fabio Chies told the Ansa news agency. "Around our municipality there is a 25 square kilometre area of hills that we can't patrol."

Parks and gardens closed

A policewoman from Rome, checks that the entrance to the park of Villa Pamphili is closed, after the mayor's order to close all the parks in Rome to avoid crowds of people that may adversely affect the defence of  COVID-19. March 14, 2020: AFP

Many municipalities have prohibited access to green space. Parks are closed in Milan, Naples, and Rome. In some cities, such as Padua, even walks have been banned. 

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi posted an outraged video on Friday on Facebook about people in La Caffarella park continuing to act as if they were not under lockdown.

"People are sunbathing, walking with friends," she said. "Either we all understand that we have to control ourselves, or the army will have to intervene... because we have to stop this pandemic."

Bring in the army?

According to Italian media reports, the government is seriously considering using the military to enforce restrictions on movement. Il Corriere della Sera daily reported that authorities were considering bringing in 17,000 soldiers to help keep people inside. Such reinforcements would be in addition to the 7,000 soldiers already patrolling certain sensitive areas, such as government
buildings and tourist sites.



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