“We have no money to pay, we have to eat”: spate of lootings hit Italian supermarkets

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AS Italy enters its fourth week of lockdown, the strain of closed businesses and decimated incomes is beginning to show. More than 12,000 people in the country have died from Covid-19, and the government has announced an extension of lockdown measures until mid-April. For some, this means a further two weeks with little or no income and possibly a family to support too. 

The south of the country is seeing a rise in coronavirus cases, but it is also facing a social crisis. The south is poorer than its northern counterpart, and already the closure of businesses is leaving residents with little money to live on. Italy’s non-essential commercial activities have been closed for several weeks now. 

One priest at a church-run charity in Naples reported, “There are now long queues at food banks.” Equally worrying are the spate of lootings in supermarkets that took place in Sicily on Thursday. According to Italian paper La Repubblica, a group of residents in Palermo ran out of a supermarket without paying while shouting, “We have no money to pay, we have to eat.”

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Il Corriere della Sera reported small food shops in Sicilian towns whose owners had been pressured into giving away free food. 

The reports have been enough for Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to announce €4.3 billion to be provided to all municipalities as well as an additional €400 million to mayors for the provision of food stamps. The mayors, however, have warned this sum is woefully insufficient.  


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