In Italy, the coronavirus issue has raised in February, having its first reported case in the city of Rome. Subsequently, the virus began to consistently spread, especially in the North of Italy, and lockdowns started to be implemented around 21 February 2020, covering initially municipalities of the province of Lodi, in Lombardy. In the most affected towns, in Codogno – which was referred to as a “red zone ” due to the intensity of contamination, the police began to put forward stricter measures such as multiple road blockages.

On 8 March 2020, Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, announced the expansion of the quarantine zone to cover a considerably large portion of northern Italy, affecting over sixteen million people. The restrictions were then extended nationally, and the entire country was placed under a long lockdown in a drastic bid to halt the outbreak.

Working under the Italian lockdown

The last government decree (n. 18 del 2020) establishes that all industries, all private or public companies as well as all public administrations must adopt “smart working” ordinarily. In order to avoid the virus’ spread, the overall transit of people has been drastically reduced.

Public administration offices remained open, but with most of its personnel teleworking and only providing essential services, which encompasses, for example, the necessary activities to support governmental and ministerial political affairs, to coordinate the health sector, to carry out international relations, or to manage the police forces across the country.

In case of a work emergency, public employees must use telephones, videoconferencing and other digital and online tools to avoid physical contact with clients. Furthermore, they must respect the droplet distance between employee and customer/client – in case it is necessary to meet them personally – and to guarantee the adoption of all the required hygienic measures.

In the private sector, there is also a list of critical businesses and activities that are still being carried out. In this context, every worker – whether executing a critical task or not – should also work from home if possible.

Furthermore, the referred decree also provides employees with family and/or personal-related constraints an additional leave – 12 days within the two epidemic months, March and April – to, for instance, take care of their children or disabled/elderly family members.

Health sector supporting initiatives

As the COVID-19 further spreads, crisis management becomes increasingly difficult, particularly because of the unpredictability of the situation. Under these circumstances, enormous efforts are required both from an economic and a political point of view.

Most resources to fight the outbreak have been addressed to the healthcare system, which is under strain as a result of the severe spike in cases.

The Italian Government has been mobilizing multiple efforts to support the healthcare sector, which includes increasing the number of doctors and nurses available – while recruiting many new graduates as well as calling upon retired doctors.  Moreover, additional ventilators and protective equipment from the NHS have been provided, the number of intensive care units in the country was doubled, and “camp hospitals” have been built in a remarkably short time frame.


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