Confusion spreads as Italy tries to lock down 16 million people

By Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli March 8, 2020 at 5:48 p.m. CDT

ROME — Italy on Sunday launched a complicated and urgent plan to restrict the movement of roughly 16 million people, a measure that unleashed confusion about how it could be enforced and whether it would be enough to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The plan to lock down large swaths of the north was the first major attempt by a democracy during the coronavirus crisis to radically halt the routines of daily life — an effort that will have significant impacts on civil liberties. But in the hours before and after the measure became law, people continued to stream out of the northern hubs of Milan and Venice on trains and planes for southern Italy or elsewhere in Europe.

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Water buses are mostly empty in St. Mark’s Square in Venice on Sunday as Italy imposes new measures to contain the spread of coronavirus. (Manuel Silvestri/Reuters)

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