March 24, 2020 / 6:19 PM / 15 days ago

Italy PM hikes lockdown fines, hopes to lift restrictions soon

ROME, March 24 (Reuters) - The Italian government has hiked fines for people who defy a lockdown order, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday, adding that he hoped he could start lifting the restrictions shortly.

Anyone caught leaving their home without good reason will now face fines of between 400 euros to 3,000 euros ($430 to $3,227) against a previous 206 euros, Conte said in a television address.

All non-essential businesses have been ordered to close until April 3, with people told to stay at home. There has been speculation the date will be pushed back and a decree issued on Tuesday gave the government the power to extend the deadline to July 31.

However, Conte denied planning to keep the lockdown in place until that date, saying he hoped to loosen restrictions “well before then”. ($1 = 0.9301 euros) (Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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