Priests keep their distance from Pope Francis during live-streamed audience
Catholic priests kept their distance from Pope Francis over coronavirus fears today as Italy's 3ft safety rule reached the Vatican, Daily Mail reports.
Francis held an audience in his private library with his clerical translators sitting a yard apart - the distance which Italy is demanding in public spaces to stop the spread of the virus.
St Peter's Square stood empty today with the pontiff's usual Wednesday appearance cancelled and worshippers forced to watch his catechism on a live-stream.
Other Italian landmarks such as St Mark's Square in Venice and the Milanese shopping streets also remained empty today with tourists staying away and some countries cutting off transport links.
It came amid warnings that Italy's unprecedented nationwide lockdown could be tightened even further, with calls for public transport to be shut down entirely in the hard-hit region of Lombardy.
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte today refused to rule out even tougher quarantine measures after the death toll surged to 631 on the first day of the lockdown yesterday, with more than 10,000 cases now confirmed.
Conte also promised today that Italy would ramp up spending to help the Italian economy withstand the crisis, saying that 25billion euros (£22billion) had been put aside.