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Italy to suspend mortgage payments during coronavirus outbreak

Police officers and soldiers check passengers leaving from Milan main train station, Italy, Monday, March 9, 2020. Italy took a page from China's playbook Sunday, attempting to lock down 16 million people — more than a quarter of its population — for nearly a month to halt the relentless march of the new coronavirus across Europe. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte signed a quarantine decree early Sunday for the country's prosperous north. Areas under lockdown include Milan, Italy's financial hub and the main city in Lombardy, and Venice, the main city in the neighboring Veneto region. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Police officers and soldiers check passengers leaving from Milan's main train station. (Antonio Calanni/AP)

Mortgage payments in Italy will be put on hold as the country contends with its spiralling coronavirus outbreak, the Italian deputy economy minister said on Tuesday.

Speaking on Italian state radio, Laura Castelli said that the government had been working with the country’s banks on a mortgage holiday, which will also include other household bills.

“Yes, that will be the case, for individuals and households,” Castelli said in an interview, in response to a question about a suspension of mortgage payments.

Castelli, a Five Star Movement politician serving in the country’s left-leaning coalition government, did not specify how long the mortgage holiday would last.

Read more: Global stocks rebound as Italy-wide coronavirus lockdown begins

Italian banking association ABI had already said on Monday that a significant majority of the country’s banks would offer debt moratoriums to households and small businesses affected by the coronavirus fallout.

Castelli’s statement came around the same time that Italian economic development minister Stefano Patuanelli confirmed that his government would approve measures worth around €10bn (£9bn) to tackle the economic impact of coronavirus.

Late on Monday, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte extended emergency coronavirus measures across the country, forcing tens of millions of Italians into a lockdown.

Read more: Deutsche Bank and ECB confirm staff diagnosed with coronavirus in Frankfurt

Stock markets rebounded slightly on Tuesday, as hopes grew that governments and central banks across the world would spend hundreds of billions of dollars to stop the global economy spiralling into recession.

Italy, where the total number of coronavirus cases has now broached 9,000, has been criticised for its response to the outbreak.

Walter Ricciardi, a member of the World Health Organization’s European Advisory Committee, said that it was a “great mistake” that the Italian government had not imposed quarantining measures earlier than it had.

There have now been well over 1,000 cases of the virus in each of France, Germany, and Spain. There have been around 300 cases each in Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the UK.

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