A nearly deserted Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy's oldest active shopping mall, in downtown Milan, Italy .

MILAN – On Saturday night, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced the government decision to shut down all nonessential manufacturing activities until Apr. 3.

According to Conte, this measure is instrumental to fight the Coronavirus epidemic, which is causing “the most dramatic crisis for the country after World War II,” he said.

The prime minister added grocery stores and supermarkets, as well as pharmacies, insurances, banks and post offices, will remain open. Public transportations will continue to operate. The Italian government already imposed the closure of nonessential commercial activities across the whole country on March 12.

Conte’s announcement came in the darkest day of the Coronavirus crisis in Italy, where the country registered 53,578 infected individuals – 6,557 more than Friday – while 793 people died.

On March 16, the Italian government said it decided to allocate 25 billion euros to support the country, but take action to generate financing for 350 billion euros “to support and push” the economy as the country fights the coronavirus outbreak.

With what was also called the March Decree, the government allocated 10 billion euros to support employment and 10 billion euros to help families with the suspension of mortgages. In particular, 3.3 billion euros will be used to extend the “cassa integrazione,” a wage support measure usually applied to manufacturing companies, to commercial activities and to all those entities with fewer than 15 employees. In this case it will be extended to those companies that have even only one employee.

A total of 1.2 billion euros will help guarantee a 15-day parental leave to all those employees unable to go to work to take care of their children with all the schools closed. Alternatively, each family will have the chance to get a voucher of 600 euros to pay for a babysitter.

The government also allocated 500 million euros to guarantee each employee 12 days of paid leave to assist family members, while those who have been quarantined because they are considered at risk will be entitled to a certain number of days of paid sick-leave. In addition, to support freelancers, the government designated a bonus of 600 euros a person for the month of March. The decree also postponed March’s tax deadlines to May 31 for both self-employed citizens and companies. Three billion euros have been allocated for self-employed citizens as a protection for inactivity.

A probable, additional decree will be issued in April.

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