Coronavirus: Italian mayor brings daughters home as UK not safe
The mayor of Italy’s worst-hit coronavirus town has said he is bringing his daughters home from the UK because he believes his country is safer.
Giorgio Gori, mayor of Bergamo in Italy’s north, said he made the decision to bring his daughters home from school in Taunton and Canterbury after concluding that the UK government is not taking the threat of coronavirus seriously enough.
In a damning indictment of Boris Johnson’s coronavirus action plan, Gori said Britain has already missed the opportunity to stave off the worst of the crisis.
With 335 deaths from coronavirus, the UK is in almost the exact same position that Italy was two weeks ago when it enacted a country-wide lockdown and banned people from the streets without a valid reason.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has so-far ignored calls to copy the measures taken by Italy, but is now facing a revolt from within his own party unless they are brought in.
Italy now has the highest number of coronavirus deaths anywhere in the world at almost 5,500 with 1,444 people dying this weekend alone – equivalent to one every two minutes.
However, there are signs that the infection is starting to ease off – giving a glimmer of hope that lockdown measures have been effective.
Speaking to Sky News, Gori said: ‘I have two daughters, they are studying in England, one in Taunton in college and the other in Canterbury, she’s doing a Masters.
‘And when I saw what the English government was thinking about this problem, I decided to bring them back.
‘I think that even if we are at the centre of the epidemic probably they are more secure here than in England.
‘I don’t understand why the government didn’t decide in time to protect their citizens.’
Meanwhile, other Italian mayors and regional leaders issued furious commands for people to stay in their homes amid the lockdown – even threatening to bring in police armed with flamethrowers.
Vincenzo De Luca, president of the Campania region, issued a televised message saying: ‘I’m getting news that some would like to throw graduation parties.
‘We will send the police over,’ he added. ‘With flamethrowers.’
Meanwhile Cateno De Luca, mayor of Messina, was equally incredulous. In an impassioned Facebook tirade, he said: ‘You will not ‘stroll’ in my town.
‘I can’t formally ban you from leaving your house?
‘I will ban you from setting foot on public soil unless for proven necessities.’
Antonio Decaro, the mayor of Bari, took to the streets himself in order to send people back to their houses.
‘Go home,’ he could be seen telling one person playing ping-pong on the beach, ‘play some videogames.
‘I’m the mayor of this city. I will make you follow this decree. I don’t want excuses. You must go home. You. All. Have. To. Stay. Home.’
Another added: ‘This isn’t a movie. You are not Will Smith in I Am Legend. You have to go home.’
Italy is in the midst of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak, with the death toll increasing by 1,444 at the weekend – or two people every minute.
Since the outbreak began some two months ago, there have been 60,000 confirmed cases in Italy with almost 5,500 people dying from the illness.
The country announced a draconian nationwide lockdown starting on March 10, that heavily restricted travel between cities and urged people to stay at home.
Since then it has been expanded to confine people to their homes with people only allowed out to go to work, a medical appointment, or other emergencies.
Italy banned travel and shut down a range of industries Monday in a last-ditch push to stem the spread of a coronavirus that has killed nearly 5,500 people in a month.
The latest wave of restrictions is designed to get the Mediterranean country through a vital 10-day stretch in which the rate of deaths and infections is supposed to finally drop.
Italy’s health officials sounded notes of guarded hope after reporting another 651 fatalities on Sunday.
The figure was the second-highest recorded during the crisis and above that officially registered anywhere else in the world in a day.
But it was still lower than the record 793 deaths health officials announced on Saturday.
The number of new infections also rose Sunday by a relatively modest 10.4 percent.
The chief health officer of northern Italy’s devastated Lombardy region sounded uncharacteristically upbeat Sunday.
‘These figures are always a matter of either seeing the glass as half full or half empty,’ Giulio Gallera wrote on Facebook.
‘Today, the glass is half full.’
Italy has sacrificed its economy and liberties by shutting down and banning almost everything to halt the spread of a virus the government views as an existential threat.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte took the extra step late Saturday of announcing plans to close ‘non-essential’ factories and trades until April 3.
Italians spent much of Sunday trying to figure out what exactly Conte meant.
The government released a long list of industries and professions that would still be allowed.
These included translation services and chemical processing plants. Auto part makers were allowed to stay open, but steel mills were not.
Lawyers were told to work from home, but reporters were allowed to meet in newsrooms.
The decrees published Monday added to the air of confusion in the face of a disease Conte on Saturday called Italy’s biggest threat since World War II.
They include a separate instruction forbidding Italians ‘from moving by public or private means of transport outside the municipality in which they are currently located’.
This theoretically means that Italians cannot travel to their second homes at the weekend or visit out-of-town relatives.
There is an exception for people who can prove they must travel ‘for work needs of absolute urgency or for health reasons’.
The long list of ‘essential’ industries is accompanied by reports of companies urgently lobbying the government to be allowed to open their doors for the coming week.
The reality is that Conte’s team is slowly running out of things to close or ban – other than imposing a Chinese-style quarantine of cities and entire regions.
Ministers and health experts are all looking at the daily death toll and infection rates to see if their approach has worked.
Other nations are watching also, as they calibrate their response to a virus whose spread is currently being fought by measures that are restricting people’s freedoms and devastating economies.
Both local and national officials pleaded with Italians while announcing their restrictions to sacrifice their liberties for the common good for two weeks.
The two-week deadline in Lombardy expired on Sunday.
The restrictions Conte imposed nationally are set to end of Wednesday, while the closure of schools and public buildings is due to expire on April 3.
Conte had indicated last week that he might have to extend the restrictions indefinitely.
His decision on what Italy intends to do next is expected this week.