Italy shuts down all stores except pharmacies, food markets over coronavirus

Deserted streets and closed shops seen in the city center on March 11, 2020 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Stefano Montesi - Corbis/ Getty Images)

Italy’s premier says all stores except pharmacies and grocery stores are being closed nationwide in response to the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

Premier Giuseppe Conte thanked the public for cooperating with the already unprecedented travel and social restrictions that took effect Tuesday.

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But he said Wednesday night on Facebook Live that Italy must "go another step'' by closing all shops and businesses except for food stores, pharmacies and other shops selling ''essential'' items.

The tighter restrictions on daily life are the government’s latest effort to respond to the fast-moving crisis that took Italy’s number of cases from three to 12,462 in less than three weeks.