Conte says lockdown likely to continue in April

 ROME – Italy’s schools will stay closed in April and restrictive measures to try and defeat the Coronavirus epidemic will remain in place, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Thursday.

 In an interview with Corriere della Sera, Conte said that raising the restrictions April 3 when the first quarantine period ends is “improbable” as the country battles to deal with more than 35,000 cases of the virus. “The restrictive measures are working, when we reach the peak and contagion begins to decrease one will not be able to go back immediately to life as it was before,” he said.

 Conte again called for cooperation from Italians in observing the rules on staying at home so as to avoid new infections. “Everyone needs to be totally informed, criminal sanctions for those who break the law will be applied with particular severity. I agree with those mayors who have closed villas and parks, one thing is to do sport, another is to transform public places into gathering points, that is unacceptable.”

 Conte said that “other wide-ranging restrictive measures are not envisaged,” at the moment, apparently contradicting persistent media reports that the lockdown will be tightened if the rate of increase of infection does not fall by next week-end.