In unprecedented move, Italy expands coronavirus lockdown nationwide.

Yesterday in a televised address to the country, Italian premier Giuseppe Conte announced the implementation of nationwide restrictions on movement throughout Italy and its islands. The new “zone protetta” (“protected zone”) expands the “zona rossa” (“red zone”) lockdown that was put into place across a broad swath of northern Italy early Sunday morning.

Read the New York Times coverage here.

As of today, Italians are being advised not to leave their homes and are only allowed to travel between cities and towns if they are in possession of a signed declaration that their movement is absolutely necessary for work or health reasons or “extenuating circumstances.”

The government has assured citizens that goods will continue to circulate despite the lockdown. There are widespread reports of supermarkets being overwhelmed by shoppers concerned that shortages of essential items are inevitable.

It’s not clear what the short-term impact on the Italian wine trade will be. All the major Italian wine trade fairs, generally held during this time of year, have already been cancelled or postponed. Most Italian winemakers had already cancelled international travel plans before the nationwide lockdown took effect.

“Dear friends and customers,” wrote one Italian winery in an e-blast to its clients today, “we inform you that the cellar will be closed for visits and tastings until April 3. In the meantime, keep drinking [our wine] at home, and if you don’t have enough, contact us, we will do our best to help you.”

Nothing like this has happened in Italy since the Second World War.

I had been planning to travel to Italy next week but when I logged into my airline account manager this morning, I discovered that my flights to and from Milan had been cancelled by the carrier.

My Italian friends and colleagues, at least those with whom I’ve traded messages since the announcement of the new restrictions, agree that the new restrictions are necessary. One friend in Milan told me that people are getting restless and that some are planning to travel regardless of the new lockdown. It’s not clear how authorities will enforce the restrictions or how severe the penalties will be for those who travel without authorization.

“We all have to sacrifice something for the good of Italy,” said Conte in his address.

Right now, our hearts and prayers go out to all of our Italian sisters and brothers, especially those with elderly relatives. Italians, know that we stand with you. G-d bless Italy and all of us.

Photo by Rosita Dorigo.

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