Italians are being urged to stop jogging outside during the coronavirus lockdown, with authorities telling people to stay at home as much as possible.
Federico D’Inca, a government minister, said he was hearing that runners were still doing laps outdoors.
“They meet up and leave the house without any valid reason,” he said. “I – and we – ask them to sacrifice this extra thing, and to be respectful.”
“This is a critical moment if we want to beat the curve,” he added.
Italy has been in lockdown since 10 March as it fights the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen more than 40,000 people infected with the flu-like virus in the country.
Movement has been heavily restricted, with people only allowed to travel for work, medical reasons or emergencies.
Italians can also leave the house for “sporting activities” under the national lockdown rules, according to the interior ministry, although one region decided to ban outdoor running on Friday.
Emilia-Romagna in nothern Italy banned jogging and bicycle rides, saying people had to stay indoors to prevent infections.
“We already have many hundreds of dead. What more is needed before people understand the tragedy we are facing,” said Sergio Venturi, head of the coronavirus response team in the region.
A leading sports doctor has also urged people to stop running outside.
“Jogging is a no-go, even if you are on your own,” Maurizio Casasco told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “It is a way of exposing ourselves and the community to the risk of infection.”
“People who go running tend to rest on benches and stop to stretch. We need to leave these habits behind,” the president of the Italian Federation of Sports Doctors said.
On Thursday, the minister of sport told Itailian TV that he believed that the government needed to consider “possibly putting an outright ban on open-air activities.”
“If the call to stay at home will not be listened to, we will be forced to set an absolute ban.”
Italy has been the worst-hit country in Europe by the coronavirus pandemic, and saw its number of deaths exceed that of China – where the virus originated – on Thursday.
More than 3,400 people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died in the country to date, according to a Reuters tally.
The Italian prime minister has suggested that the lockdown would likely have to be extended as the country continues to battle the outbreak.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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