Italy was forced to take unseen measures to prevent the spread of corona-virus going to the whole country being "locked-down". Yet the initial lock-down allowed some of the people to try to escape from it:

Chaos and rumor reigned as the proposed government decree leaked to Italian media hours before it was signed. Even after it went into force Sunday afternoon, it contained a prominent provision that implied people like me could go home and quarantine ourselves.

Theoretically such announcements should be made seconds not hours before they actually become effective to prevent people to act out of fear.

Question: What was the point of announcing a corona-virus lock-down hours before it becomes effective?

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    Doesn't the fact that the article describes it as a leak imply that the spread of the information was unintentional? – CDJB Mar 10 '20 at 19:47

Your question assumes that a significant number of people in the area under lockdown are already infected, possibly without knowing, and that announcing the lockdown in advance will make them scatter in panic. The purpose of the lockdown would be to contain all (hah!) the cases in a restricted area.

A more reasonable lockdown from a public health perspective might be to tell people to go home and stay home, as much as possible. A zero-notice lockdown would leave people stranded at work, in train stations, etc., a major health hazard.

While I cannot read the minds of the Italian officials, consider that people are still allowed to go to work. Clearly Italy is seeking a balance between isolation and economic disruption.

  • A significant number of people were already infected without knowing and the lockdown being leaked DID make everyone scatter in panic. Which is why they locked down the whole country a couple of days later. They already DID tell people to STAY home. "While I cannot read the minds of the Italian officials". That's true. But you could at least read and have a basic understanding of something you intend on answering. – dan-klasson Mar 11 '20 at 19:47

The key word you quoted is:


"Leaked" usually connotes the unauthorized disclosure of information done in a semi-clandestine way, not a formal announcement.

It is most likely that the Italian government was going to proceed exactly as you suggest would be optimal, but someone ruined it by sharing that information with the press early in an unauthorized way.

  • It makes sense. Now I am wondering why any sane person would do such a thing. – Alexei Mar 10 '20 at 19:56
  • I can think of a few reasons (none of which I think are good reasons): 1. Someone might want to tell one of their loved ones to get them out beforehand because it would inconvenience them personally. Rinse and repeat a dozen times and eventually a reporter finds out. 2. Someone concerned about the government's course of action could leak it deliberately with the intent of changing it. 3. Someone who had the information handled it poorly and a report observed it (e.g. left a memo out somewhere where it could be seen). – Joe Mar 10 '20 at 20:08

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