MILAN – Luxury fashion boutiques, jewelry shops and most of Milan's flagship department stores were shuttered Friday, as the center of Italy's vibrant financial capital fell into a gray quiet on the first day of a partial lockdown in four regions aimed at stopping the coronavirus's resurgence.
The new restrictions – which led to closures of a patchwork of nonessential businesses – allow a great deal more freedom than Italy's near-total 10-week lockdown that started in March, but nonetheless brought recriminations from regional governments that feel unfairly targeted. In particular, the south, which was largely spared in the spring, chafed the most, despite concerns that its weaker health care system was especially vulnerable.
In Rome, Italy's health minister faced Parliament to defend the government's handling of the new phase of the crisis amid concerns the government has too often bypassed lawmakers during the pandemic.
“In a great country like Italy, this cannot be the field of a political battle,” Roberto Speranza said.
The restrictions took effect the day Italy hit a new all-time high of single-day confirmed infections – 37,809 – and registered the highest number of deaths – 446 – since spring.
“Maybe people are getting used to seeing 400 dead. That number would have people petrified in front of their TV sets. Now people seem more indifferent,” Luca Zerbini, a lawyer drinking a take-out cup of coffee near the Duomo cathedral.
In France, bookshops have been shut, and Paris' landmark English-language store Shakespeare and Company appealed to readers for support. And it got it, receiving 5,000 online orders in one week, compared with the usual 100.
And the French government is supplying quick virus tests to nursing homes around the country and to the nation's biggest airport, Paris' Charles de Gaulle. The tests are cheap and fast, but experts say they are also less accurate than the standard ones. Nursing homes in France, Spain and other European countries saw tremendous numbers of deaths in the first surge.
In Denmark, meanwhile, more than a quarter-million people were put on lockdown in a northern region.