Rome Italy’s north is in a state of emergency. At the beginning of the week there is a fifth death and the number of those infected has risen to 219. The number of infections is primarily concentrated in the two northern Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto.
Since eight o’clock on Monday, a total of eleven towns have been quarantined there – ten in Lombardy and one in Veneto. The civil protection crisis committee meets again at noon in Rome.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is preparing for a further increase in the infected. “I don’t think the quarantine measures can be lifted in a few days,” said the prime minister.
Around 500 additional security forces are on their way north to control a total of 35 barriers to affected cities such as Codogno.
Codogno has around 16,000 inhabitants and is located 58 kilometers southeast of Milan in economically important Lombardy. “The situation is not easy because if Lombardy and Veneto are blocked, it means endangering 40 percent of Italy’s gross domestic product,” said entrepreneur Giordano Riello, chairman of the board of N-Plus, a technology startup, on a radio program Monday morning ,
Northern Italy is strong in exports
Lombardy and Veneto together generate 31 percent of Italian economic output, which is around 550 billion euros. Northern Italy is also strong in exports, accounting for 40 percent of total exports.
The two quarantined cities of Codogno and Castelpusterlengo alone generate 1.5 billion euros a year. Near Codogno is the headquarters of the mineral oil and energy company Eni and one of the major logistics centers of Amazon,
There is also an infected person in the Italian economic metropolis of Milan. The city, like the companies in the region, took security measures. The Milan Cathedral and the Scala are closed, classes in schools and universities are canceled all week.
In Milan, most company bosses have given their employees in writing that they should work from home. That applies to the two big banks Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, for the insurers Generali and Zurich, for the energy companies Enel and Eni and for the telecommunications giants Vodafone and wind that are located in the north. TIM is in Rome. Also Heineken and Luxottica urge their employees to do home office.
The tire manufacturer Pirelli, whose headquarters are in Milan, has put special security measures in place: business trips in Italy and abroad have been canceled for the coming days in order not to increase the risk of infection. All training measures are also canceled.
Canceled fashion shows
The fashion industry is particularly affected. The Milan fashion fair, where the big houses present the spring collection, ends this Monday. The fashion labels Armani and Laura Biagiotti let their shows take place as planned, but without an audience behind closed doors.
They were only broadcast in the livestream. All shows on Monday were canceled. Armani closes all production facilities in Milan and the surrounding area for a week, Gucci has not yet made a decision, the shoe manufacturer Tod’s relies on home office for its employees.
And the French luxury group LMVH, which many Italian brands of Bulgari via Fendi to Kenzo and Acqua di Parma, has instructed his managers not to go on business trips to Italy. The quarantined towns are deserted: banks, companies and shops there remain closed, only the ATMs work.
So far, China has been the center of infections, and there are also numerous cases in South Korea, Japan and now in Italy. The virus epicenter in China, the city of Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei region have been in quarantine for weeks.
Numerous airlines have suspended their connections to China. Italy was the first and only country in Europe to stop air traffic with China at the end of January.
Chinese businessmen cancel trips: At the Milan fashion fair, 1,000 Chinese buyers were fewer than last year, reports an industry service.
With the lack of tourists from China, the turnover figures of the luxury boutiques in Milan also decreased. A quarter would come from customers in China.
It is too early to quantify the damage in Italy, but the coronavirus hits the country at a time when the already weak economy is again on the way to recession. And the industrial heart of the country is in the north.
The government in Rome is already working on a “Marshall Plan” for the companies concerned and is considering tax relief and the suspension of loan payments – a permissible burden for the highly indebted state.
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