More than 460 people have died from coronavirus in Italy which has more than 9000 cases. Cross-border travel is banned until early April, except in emergencies.
More than 460 people have died from coronavirus in Italy which has more than 9000 cases. Cross-border travel is banned until early April, except in emergencies.

Aussie au pairs caught in Italy lockdown

Sydney woman Emily Binet's gap year was meant to be the trip of a lifetime.

But months after finishing high school, the 18-year-old feels trapped on the other side of the world due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Ms Binet flew to Italy in December as the coronavirus was first spreading in China to work as an au pair in the Lombardy region - which is now among the places worst hit by the disease.

The teenager had planned to criss-cross Europe for six months while working, but is now forced to stay indoors after Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte put the whole country into lockdown.

More than 460 people have died from coronavirus in Italy which has more than 9000 cases. Cross-border travel is banned until early April, except in emergencies.

"My (host) family has said 'We want you to stay inside the house or in the garden - don't leave the house'," Ms Binet said, revealing to AAP that she is frustrated, worried and scared.

The Australian government says commercial flights are available for Australian citizens who want to leave Italy, despite Canberra banning non-resident visitors.

Perth woman Renee Lawrence, says she and other Australian au pairs in northern Italy are worried how they'll get out given internal travel restrictions.

The 30-year-old - who's been working in Verona - says people only had a few hours to decide whether to stay or go.

"The news broke early, it got leaked they were going to close off all the borders so a lot of people fled," Ms Lawrence told AAP on Wednesday.

She's now questioning her decision to stay.

"I wasn't really worried until yesterday, now I kind of feel like maybe I should have come home before it got too bad," she said.

"(Police) stop you in the street and ask where you're going - we're only allowed to go to work, the supermarket and the pharmacy.

"For work, I actually have to get a bit of paper now to show them the address that I'm working at."

Italians have been told not to leave their homes other than for work, health care or "necessities" such as grocery shopping.

Malta and Spain have banned air traffic from Italy while British Airways and Air Canada have suspended all flights. Austria barred travellers from crossing the border without a medical certificate.

Ms Lawrence says it's horrible to see a lively city like Verona become a ghost town.

"My grandfather is Italian but lives in Australia and he was saying the last time they closed all the schools like this in Italy was World War II. This is a big deal."