Italy expands shutdown to nearly all stores

All stores except pharmacies and food markets will be closed

Italy’s premier says all stores except pharmacies and grocery stores are being closed nationwide in response to the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

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Premier Giuseppe Conte thanked the public for cooperating with the already unprecedented travel and social restrictions that took effect Tuesday.

A pharmacist wears a mask as she speaks to a man keeping his distance, outside a pharmacy in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)

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But he said Wednesday night on Facebook Live that Italy must " go another step'' by closing all shops and businesses except for food stores, pharmacies and other shops selling ''essential'' items.

Included in the ban are coffee bars, a staple of Italian life. Restaurants will also close but will be allowed to make home deliveries.

Gas stations were not included in the order mandating which businesses will be forced to close and Conte announced no new restrictions on using public transportation, used by many Italians.

Conte also urged people not to hoard food, saying they don't need to because stores where they can buy it will remain open.

The tighter restrictions on daily life are the government’s latest effort to respond to the fast-moving crisis that took Italy’s number of cases from three to 12,462 in less than three weeks.

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