Coronavirus: Italian mayor prints local 'currency' to help residents in need

Initiative aims to help people through ‘extremely difficult time’, he says

Zoe Tidman
Thursday 02 April 2020 12:00
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An Italian commune has printed its own local "currency" to help residents get by during the coronavirus crisis.

The mayor of Santa Marina, in the southern Campania region, said the authority will hand out its own notes worth a total of €100,000 (£87,800).

“This money can be used within the commune and will work like classic vouchers,” the mayor said in a Facebook post.

The commune said the notes can be used for buying groceries, medicine and for any other personal necessity.

The initiative aims to support “people who need extra support to make it through this extremely difficult time”, Giovanni Fortunato said, adding around €5,000 (£4,400) would also go to help a local hospital.

The 50 cent, €1, €5 and €10 notes contain a different “iconic” picture of the area in southern Italy, the mayor said.

Giuseppe Conte, the Italian prime minister, recently approved a new package of measures including food parcels and shopping vouchers for those struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic, which has slowed down economic activity in the country.

People have been ordered to stay at home unless it is deemed necessary, such as to buy groceries or medicine, while all non-essential businesses have been told to close during the nationwide lockdown.

In Campania, elderly people have reportedly been targeted by young muggers on motorbikes for their shopping during the Covid-19 outbreak.

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Italy‘s minister for southern regions has expressed concerns about potential social tensions and civil unrest in poorer areas if the epidemic moves south as expected.

“I am afraid that the worries that are affecting large sections of the population over health, income and the future, with the continuation of the crisis, will turn into anger and hatred,” Giuseppe Provenzano told the national newspaper La Repubblica.

Italy has been one of the hardest-hit countries in the world by the coronavirus pandemic, with its lockdown – set to end on Friday - being extended until at least 13 April as authorities work to contain the outbreak.

More than 110,500 have tested positive for the virus in the country to date, according to official figures.

The death toll stood at around 13,100 on Thursday, while more than 16,800 people have officially been beaten the disease.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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