The "Bisconte" hotspot, the former Gasparro barracks, in Messina, Italy | ANSA/ C. /ANSA/C. Imbesi
The "Bisconte" hotspot, the former Gasparro barracks, in Messina, Italy | ANSA/ C. /ANSA/C. Imbesi

An Italian court has rejected a decree to close Sicily's migrant centers. The order had been made by the governor of Sicily, who said it was aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus.

A Sicilian regional court on Thursday agreed with the central government in Rome that an order to close Sicily’s hotspots and reception centers and to transfer all migrants off the island should be scrapped, the AGI news agency reported.

The decree issued on Sunday by Sicily’s governor Nello Musumeci also banned migrants from "entering, transiting and stopping over on the Sicilian region's territory with vessels big and small, including those belonging to charities."

The court said the decree, which had been said to be aimed at containing the spread of coronavirus, should be overturned. "there was no rigorous investigation to demonstrate that the spread of COVID-19 was worsening among the local population because of the migration phenomenon," it said.

It added that the measures "seemed to go beyond the scope of the powers conferred upon regions," in managing the coronavirus crisis.

The court will reconvene on September 17, when Sicily will present new evidence.

Also read: Rome and Sicily continue battle over migrants centers

Quarantine ships

Dozens of migrants hosted on Sicily have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks.

In Lampedusa, improved weather conditions enabled a quarantine ship “Aurelia” to dock at Cala Pisana this week.

First to go aboard were 60 migrants who had tested positive for coronavirus and had been in quarantine in a reception center. They were followed by an additional 213 people who were being hosted at the migrant hotspot in Contrada Imbricola.

Earlier this week the Italian interior minister announced a new call for tenders for additional quarantine ships to host migrants arriving in Italy, in order to alleviate pressure on land facilities.



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