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The Palazzo Grassi, Venice.
The Palazzo Grassi, Venice.

Major Museums Close as Coronavirus Cases Spike in Northern Italy

Italy is reporting a surge of new cases of the coronavirus—as of Monday more than two-hundred people have taken ill and six people have died. According to the New York Times, the outbreak of the virus in the northern regions of country has been met with an aggressive response from the government, which has deployed the police and armed forces to ensure that residents of at least ten towns in Lombardy, where the cases seem to be concentrated, do not try to leave. Only those with special permission will be allowed to travel to and from the area. It has also implemented a number of other emergency measures as it tries to contain the largest outbreak of the coronavirus outside of Asia.

The lockdown has resulted in a series of closures. Schools, museums, businesses, and transportation hubs have all been affected, and public events such as sporting events and religious ceremonies are being suspended. The Art Newspaper reports that the nearby regions of Piedmont, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia have also instructed institutions to close. The Venice carnival, which was attended by some 20,000 people on Sunday morning, has been canceled and Venice’s Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Museo Correr, the Palazzo Ducale, and the Museo del Vetro have all shut their doors. In Milan, the Pinacoteca di Brera, La Scala, and the Fondazione Prada’s two venues are closed, and cultural sites in Turin including the Castello di Rivoli will also remain closed for the next seven days.

As neighboring European countries watch the coronavirus spread in Italy, they are preparing for a similar situation. Olivier Veran, France’s health minister, told the New York Times that seventy new hospitals are being prepped to handle an influx of coronavirus patients and that orders of face masks have been placed in an attempt to get in front of the virus. Paolo Gentiloni, the European Commission’s economy commissioner, seemed to try to allay the public’s fears by telling CNBC International TV that there is “no reason to panic,” and expressed confidence in Italy’s swift response to the outbreak.