• Italy's novel coronavirus outbreak is one of the worst in the world, prompting the government to initiate a strict nationwide lockdown.
  • But southern regions are beginning to feel the weight of the economic blow as many residents begin to run out of food and money.
  • An estimated 3.3 million Italians - one-third of whom are located in the south - work off-the-books for cash, making them unsure of when their next paycheck will come.
  • This concern has caused some southern Italians to plot raids against grocery stores, and authorities are worried the situation could become violent.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Italy has seen one of the most devastating coronavirus outbreaks in the world, prompting the Italian government to initiate a strict nationwide lockdown.

While many of the coronavirus cases are located in the wealthier northern cities of Italy, poorer regions in the south are beginning to face the threat of running out of food and cash.

Photos and videos have circulated showing people pleading with police for money, attempting to organise grocery raids, and calling on the government for aid.

As tensions grow in these southern regions, authorities are worried the situation could soon become violent.


The coronavirus outbreak has hit Italy particularly hard, causing the government to enforce a strict nationwide lockdown on March 9.

Source: Business Insider


While the majority of Covid-19 cases have been in the northern region of Italy, many in the south are dealing with the lockdown's economic blow, and now face the prospect of poverty and unrest.

Francesco Militello Mirto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Source: The Guardian


People across the poorest southern regions of Italy — namely Sicily, Campania, Calabria, and Puglia — are beginning to struggle for food and money.

Tullio Puglia/Getty Images

Source: The Guardian


Long lines at grocery stores have caused anxiety in the region, and reports have shown that some people are pressuring small businesses owners to give away food for free.

Source: The Guardian


A private Facebook group has urged people to organise large raids on grocery stores and markets, and is currently under investigation. This has prompted police officers to stand guard outside of supermarkets in Palermo, the capitol city of Sicily.

Source: Bloomberg


A video from Sky News shows people shouting at police, desperately claiming they have no money. Other footage shows a man saying he and his daughter will soon run out of bread, heading the call for a revolution.

Source: Sky News


Many have turned to charities and food banks for aid. But the lines to receive food have grown increasingly longer.

Source: The Guardian


One Priest told the Guardian: "Now people are more afraid — not so much of the virus, but of poverty. Many are out of work and hungry. There are now long queues at food banks."

Source: The Guardian


To help one another, people across Italy have been filling baskets with food and leaving them in the streets for neighbors to pick up what they need.

Source: The Guardian


The south has been hit particularly hard because of Italy's underground economy. An estimated 3.3 million people work off the record for cash, with at least one million of those jobs concentrated in poor southern regions.

Francesco Militello Mirto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Source: The Guardian


Because of this, many people are having difficulty accessing unemployment benefits and don't know when their next paycheck will come.

Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images

Sources: The Guardian, Bloomberg


Small business owners and workers fear their shops will not be able to reopen, after the lockdown is lifted. One waiter in Sicily who lost his job told the Guardian, "This situation is bringing us to our knees."

Paolo Manzo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Source: The Guardian


The mayor of Palermo fears that organised crime will soon swoop in and take advantage of an increasingly desperate situation. He told the government that "criminal groups could promote violence acts," according to The Guardian.

Felix Zahn/Photothek via Getty Images

Source: The Guardian


Others worry that the mafia could use this as an opportunity to recruit desperate people for work.

Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Source: The Guardian


Realising that social unrest could become worse as lockdowns persists, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is preparing an emergency relief package that could be worth 600 euros per month for workers hit hardest in the south.

Source: Bloomberg

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