Italy Employers, Exchange Say Business Continues Under Lockdown

(Bloomberg) --

Milan’s business community and stock exchange sought to reassure Italians that economic activity would continue as usual, even as the government sought to lock down the north of the country to contain the deadly coronavirus.

The Milan stock exchange will operate as normal on Monday despite new restrictions on movement in Milan and the areas around Italy’s financial capital aimed at containing the coronavirus, Borsa Italiana Chief Executive Officer Raffaele Jerusalmi said in an interview.

Marcella Panucci, director general of employers lobby Confindustria, said new restrictions in the north do not mean movement of goods will be constrained. The country’s businesses will be able to operate normally, she said in a letter sent to associates. All airports, even those within the area affected by the new containent rules, are open and operating normally, Italian civil aviation authority Enac said in a statement.

There’s no reason to expect that trading won’t go on as usual and the Italian market has already fallen in proportion to the impact of the virus, Jerusalmi said on Sunday. He expects planned initial public offerings in Milan to go ahead, though some might face delays.

The Italian government of Giuseppe Conte on Sunday approved sweeping restrictions on travel and public activities in the Lombardy region that includes Milan, as well as parts of Veneto, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna. The north has been the epicenter of the outbreak in Italy, which has almost 6,000 the most in Europe.

“The stock exchange has a business continuity plan that allows us to trade even in case of a nuclear attack,” Jerusalmi said. “There is unjustified panic. Measures taken by the Italian government are to avoid an overload of our hospitals and a collapse of the healthcare system. That’s it.”

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