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Italy closes ‘unsafe ports’ to migrant ships over coronavirus

Italian ports cannot be considered safe because of the coronavirus epidemic, the government said, adding that it will not let charity migrant boats dock.

The decision was taken late on Tuesday after a ship operated by the German non-governmental group Sea-Eye picked up some 150 people off Libya and headed towards Italy, Reuters reports.

“For the entire duration of the national health emergency caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Italian ports cannot guarantee the requisites needed to be classified and defined as a place of safety,” the decree said.

The national emergency is set to expire on July 31, but the deadline might be extended. The order was signed by the interior and transport ministers, as well as Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who comes from a leftist party that has always supported campaigns for migrant protection and charity operations.

Header: Italian ship Eleonore carrying migrants docks at a port, despite the ban by the Italian authorities, in Pozzallo, Italy, September 2, 2019. © Reuters / Antonio Parrinello