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Army officials in Italy say soldiers should report to work as normal Tuesday amid nationwide virus lockdown

USAG Italy

By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 9, 2020

U.S. Army troops and other personnel in Italy should report to work as normal Tuesday, officials said on Facebook, as the military awaited a signed copy of an Italian decree imposing restrictions on travel throughout the country.

As the country battles the worst outbreak of the new coronavirus outside Asia, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said he planned to extend a lockdown on travel from the north to the entire country to try to stop the virus’ spread, The Associated Press reported late Monday.

A new government decree will require all people in Italy to demonstrate a need to work, health conditions or other limited reasons to travel outside the areas where they live, Conte said.

“There won’t be just a red zone,” he told reporters referring to a lockdown of areas in northern Italy instituted over the weekend. “There will be Italy” as a protected area, he said.

The country had more than 9,100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, including more than 460 deaths, the health ministry said. Nearly 725 people had recovered from the disease.

An earlier decree locking down the northern Lombardy region and several hard-hit central and northern provinces had forced a temporary halt to military mail service at Aviano Air Base, U.S. officials had said.

U.S. Army Garrison-Italy officials were following the news of the new decree late Monday, the garrison said on its Facebook page at 11:30 p.m., but officials were waiting for a copy of it to have a better understanding of the safeguards the country was putting in place.

In the interim, troops, federal civilian employees, Italian workers and contractors were expected to report for work at their designated times, USAG-Italy said in the late night post.

“If you are stopped by the Carabinieri and are asked to return home, please do so and inform your supervisor,” the Facebook post said.

Hours earlier, under the previous decree, the command had put out a document that authorized service members living in Treviso and Padova provinces to drive in and out of those restricted areas to the Vicenza Military Community. The form would also authorize movement for federal civilians, Italian base workers and contractors deemed mission essential and required to report for duty.

“This document also authorizes Soldiers, civilians and family members to travel to the commissary, PX, post office, medical and other service locations on Ederle and Del Din,” USAG-Italy said on Facebook.

Neither Aviano Air Base nor U.S. Naval Forces Europe in Naples had issued statements on the new decree as of 1 a.m. on Tuesday.
 

garland.chad@stripes.com
@chadgarland

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