Covid-19: Italy's aviation authority says police may use drones to monitor people's movement

Italy has said police may use drones to monitor movement in order to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

VIA PO, TURIN, ITALY – 2020/03/15: (EDITORS NOTE: Image was created with a drone.) A man walks in almost deserted via Roma. The Italian government imposed unprecedented restrictions to halt the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, among other measures people movements are allowed only for work, for buying essential goods and for health reasons. (Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The National Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) authorized the use of drones to monitor the movements of citizens in municipal areas to ensure the containment of the epidemiological emergency, ENAC said Monday in a letter published on its official website.

The letter was sent by ENAC to the Italian ministries of the Interior, Transport and Justice, the Air Force General Staff, the company that manages civil air traffic in Italy (ENAV), the National Association of Italian Municipalities and the Local Police posts.

ENAC’s letter said that “given the needs expressed by numerous local police headquarters,” it authorized until April 3 “operations conducted with remotely piloted aircraft systems with aerial means of take-off, with operating mass of less than 25kg” for monitoring activities “in derogation of the registration and identification requirements.”

When the outbreak in Italy began, authorities only locked down affected areas in the north. The entire country was put on lockdown on March 9 and those who break the rules now face $232 fines and six months’ prison time. Hundreds of thousands of Italians have been given police citations for flouting the ban and a Chinese Red Cross official last week said the measures — among the strictest in Europe — weren’t strict enough. On Friday, the military was called in to help enforce the rules as deaths spiked and hospitals buckled under the strain. By the weekend, authorities were forced to issue even more stringent restrictions.

Yesterday saw a small decrease in cases and deaths for a second day. Italy confirmed 601 new coronavirus-related deaths over 24 hours, bringing the total to 6,077. Another 4,789 new cases were diagnosed, bringing the total number of cases to 63,927.

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