COVID-19 in Italy: A Retailer's Perspective

On 22 March the Italian President of the Council of Ministers issued the "Close Italy" ("Chiudi Italia") Decree no. 18/2020 in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. This implemented even more radical and stringent measures aimed at further tightening the quarantine already in place in Italy since 9 March.

The Decree provides, inter alia, the temporary shutting down – no later than 25 March and until 3 April - of almost all manufacturing activities and offices (both private and public) throughout the whole national territory, with the exception of those operating in sectors which are deemed "essential" to keep Italy's supply chain running, and listed in an annex enclosed in the Decree.

In relation to commercial activities, the measures adopted by the previous Decree of 11 March, and the Order issued by the Ministry of Health on 20 March, both remain in force. Therefore some activities are currently permitted and certain stores can continue to operate, including:

  • Food stores

  • Super and mini markets

  • Restaurants (with home delivery only)

  • Pharmacies and Para-pharmacies

  • Newsstands

  • Banks

  • Tobacconists

  • Gas stations

  • Hardware stores

  • Laundrettes

  • Optical and photography shops

As well as stores selling/activities relating to:

  • Frozen food products

  • Consumer electronic products (in non-specialist stores)

  • Sanitary products

  • Medical and orthopaedic products

  • Lighting products

  • Computing equipment (in specialist stores only)

  • Car accessories

  • Small pets

  • Soaps and detergents

  • Heating fuel

In carrying out such activities it remains necessary to put in place all the measures already specified by the Government to protect the health of workers and consumers.

Finally, it cannot be ignored that further decisions on this subject matter will be taken in the very near future. Recently, for instance, the Lombardy Region urged the Government to take tougher actions and labour unions have threatened a general strike, considering that too many activities are still permitted. Moreover, under a strict procedural perspective, it must also be kept in mind that any decree issued by the Government must be converted into law by the Italian Parliament, and in such a phase the Parliament could make changes to the content of the decree.

We will continue to monitor carefully the situation.

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