ROME: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Wednesday (Mar 11) that Italy would shut all stores except for pharmacies and food shops to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic

“All shops will be closed except for basic necessities, such as pharmacies and food stores,” Conte said in a national television address broadcast hours after Italy saw its death toll climb to 827 in just over two weeks.

“Bars, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and canteen services will close. Home delivery is allowed.”

Italy has recorded nearly 60 per cent of all coronavirus cases outside China.

READ: Italy unveils US$28b coronavirus rescue plan

Conte did not spell out when the measures might be lifted.

Italy has imposed nationwide restrictions on public gathering and travel that run until Apr 3.

READ: COVID-19: All of Italy to be placed under lockdown, says PM

The Italian leader stressed in his nine-minute evening prime time address that there was “no need to rush to buy groceries” because food stores would stay open throughout.

Conte did not announce any new restriction on transport.

Big businesses such as factories can remain open as long as they adopt “appropriate security measures to prevent contagion,” Conte said.

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