Italian unions, companies agree measures to keep working

ROME (AP) – Union leaders, industrialists and the Italian government have reached agreement on special measures to keep the country’s factories running during the national lockdown aimed at combatting the spread of the new coronavirus.

After a marathon 18-hour session by video conference, involving several ministers and Premier Giuseppe Conte, participants signed off on a protocol yesterday morning.

Conte has declared the country’s production must not stop, especially in the sectors of food and health supplies. He has promised free disposable gloves and masks for factory workers.

Union leaders said the protocol stipulates that union representatives and workers have a say in safety measures. Among them are that drivers of trucks bringing in supplies from outside companies must stay in their cabs while goods are unloaded. Another measure sees workers entering or leaving factories in staggered numbers instead of entire shifts at once.

Some unions had threatened to strike if strict measures weren’t implemented. Italy has the largest outbreak of COVID-19 outside of China.

A woman takes photos of The Spanish Steps in Rome. PHOTO: AP

Denmark is closing all its borders to travellers in a bid to tackle the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Danish government said late on Friday that the country will close its borders — land, sea and air — at midday on Saturday until April 13. All passenger traffic to and from Denmark will be stopped.

Travellers will be turned away at the border unless they can show that they have “a legitimate reason” to be there, such as that they are Danish citizens or foreign nationals living and working in the country.

“We are in uncharted territory,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a news conference. “We’re in the middle of something none of us has faced before.”

“I know that the overall list of measures (announced by Denmark) is very extreme and will be seen as very extreme, but I am convinced that it’s worth it.” Denmark has so far confirmed 827 cases of the virus in its population of 5.6 million.

Russia has also said that its land borders with Norway will be closed to foreigners beginning today, as will the borders of Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave with Poland. Belarus citizens, foreigners with legal residence in Russia and members of official delegations are excepted.

Other Russian borders with European countries remain open.