• Italy's lockdown means most people are confined at home.
  • Government website encourages companies to offer free online services.
  • E-learning, data and publications available for free.

With a population of 60 million people under lockdown, Italy has launched a campaign to get internet companies and publishers to provide free services to help people work and study from home, or just to relieve the boredom of being confined.

Free online newspapers, faster internet and access to e-learning platforms can be accessed at the government's Digital Solidarity page, where companies can also go to sign up to provide their services pro bono.

Italy, which has recorded Europe's worst COVID-19 outbreak, tightened its lockdown after confirmed cases rose to 12,462 on 11 March, from a previous 10,149, with the death toll jumping by 196 in 24 hours to 827.

Anyone who needs to move around outside is required to fill in a form explaining why their journey is necessary. All schools and most workplaces had already been closed and now restaurants, bars and hairdressers have been forced to shut. Food stores remain open.

"We will only be able to see the effects of this great effort in a couple of weeks," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said.

Italy COVID-19 confirmed coronavirus cases
The front line
Image: Statista

Among the offers on the Digital Solidarity page: mobile phone companies are giving extra data allowances; Amazon Web Services has given access to its cloud computing to (AWS) to companies, non-profits and government agencies; and publisher Mondadori has given 50,000 free subscriptions to its magazines.

With other countries gradually imposing restrictions on their citizens, it's possible that the idea of 'digital solidarity' might also spread beyond Italy.