Homeowners across Italy will get a grace period on their mortgage payments as its quarantine to include the entire nation of 60 million people until next month, the prime minister announced Monday.due to the spread of coronavirus. The country expanded
Italy's Deputy Economy Minster Laura Catelli also announced mortgage payments would be temporarily suspended as a means to soften the economic blow of the virus, BBC News reports.
Lenders would offer debt holidays to small firms and families, Italy's banking lobby group ABI said, according to BBC. This practice is not unheard of in Italy — during the financial crisis a decade ago, businesses and families were given extra time to repay debts. Italy's economy has struggled to recover from the global crisis.
Other emergency measures have been taken in Italy to help combat coronavirus. Travel restrictions are in place and there is a ban on public gatherings. City streets and normally crowded historic sites are deserted.
The current lockdown is the most drastic restriction on movement in the country since World War II. "We have run out of time," Prime Minister Conte said in a national address. "We're having a growth in infection and deaths ... the whole of Italy will become a protected zone."
The announcement triggered a rash of panic buying in Rome as shoppers in masks swarmed supermarkets.
There are some encouraging signs that extreme measures like this lockdown appear to help. Across some of Italy's northern zones where quarantines have been in place for a couple of weeks, the number of cases is going down.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been more than 10,000 cases of coronavirus in Italy, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins — the most of any country except China.