Italy on Saturday shut all non-essential factories after marking the highest single day death of 793 people, bringing its total fatalities to 4,825.
This is one third of the world's overall death in the coronavirus pandemic. "The decision taken by the government is to close down all productive activity throughout the territory that is not strictly necessary, crucial, indispensable, to guarantee us essential goods and services," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a dramatic late-night TV address.
But all essential services like groceries and pharmacies would remain open. "We will slow down the country's productive engine, but we will not stop it," Conte said.
Italy has notched a rapid succession of records that seemed unimaginable when a retired Italian builder became the first person in Europe to die of the new illness exactly a month ago.
The Mediterranean nation of 60 million on Thursday overtook China as the global epicentre of COVID-19. The Italian government considers the tragic deaths from COVID19 is country's deadliest and most transformative crisis since World War II.
National Health Institute (ISS) chief Silvio Brusaferro urged the elderly to stay indoors at all times because the average age of Italy's victims was 78.5. "If you do not follow all the (government) measures, you make everything more difficult," Italy's top medical expert said. "If you do, we can make this outbreak slow down."
But the Italian government appears intent on making more or less everyone stay indoors as much as possible at any cost. Police squads in Rome were checking documents and fining those outside without a valid excuse.Those who were out jogging were asked to limit their runs to laps around the block.
The total number of fatalities in the northern Lombardy regions around Milan surpassed 3,000. Lombardy has been under a lockdown since March 8 and the government had hoped to see results there first.