Three regions declared coronavirus “red zones” in Italy's north, and Calabria in the country's “toe”, have shuttered non-essential businesses, in measures affecting 16 million people.
A further two southern regions, Puglia and Sicily, are under less stringent “orange zone” measures.
People in the highest-risk red and orange zones are told to stay within their comune, or municipality, and are only allowed to leave for work, study, health or other essential reasons, as Italy brings in the strictest measures since its two-month spring lockdown was eased.
In red zones, restrictions on movement resemble those imposed earlier this year during a severe national lockdown, with residents' movements curtailed further.
In addition to not being allowed to travel from one municipality to another, people in red zones are not allowed to move around within their own area, unless for essential reasons, using either public or private transport.
The entire country faces a nighttime curfew from 10pm to 5am, as a raft of new rules come in under Italy's latest emergency decree.
While some businesses are allowed to remain open in the red and orange zones, including hairdressers, bookshops, and bars (for takeout service only), many of those said it was not worth doing so.
In Italy's financial and fashion capital of Milan, streets have already fallen quiet.
“My customers are very scared, very scared,” hairdresser Francesco Puccio told AFP.
“Last week I only had two clients per day, sometimes even just one, so there's no real advantage for me in staying open. There's nobody out and about anymore, the offices are empty,” he said.
In the southern region of Puglia, under orange zone rules, many bars were closed on Friday, even though they can remain open for takeaway service under the rules.
“I don't expect to make much money with takeaway coffee. But if I close, I'm worried I won't reopen,” the owner of one bar told The Local.
He said the bar, next to the city's usually-bustling main shopping street Via Sparano, was usually “full from morning to night” but had had “no more then ten” customers on Friday morning.
Restaurants, bars and cafes can offer takeout services, but some say it's not worth opening. Photo:AFP
Many wonder how regions with some of the lowest case numbers – Calabria and Valle d'Aosta – had ended up as red zones, while regions with many times more, including Campania, Lazio and Veneto were classed as only moderate risk.
Officials in red zone Lombardy – by far the worst-hit area since the start of the pandemic – said the new rules were “a slap in the face”, while the mayor of Naples in hard-hit Campania said it should not have been declared a yellow zone and stricter measures were needed.
Red zone Calabria said they would contest the government's decision.
The regional classification however isn't made on case numbers alone, but on a complex system of 21 criteria
established by Italy's Higher Health Institute (ISS).
Italy on Thursday recorded some 34,500 new cases nationwide.
There were 445 deaths in the past 24 hours, and health authoriies reported that of the 220,000 tests carried out in the same period, more than ten percent came back positive.
“In recent days the situation seemed to have stabilized, even taking into account the daily variability, but today's data tells us that globally the virus is still spreading and it is necessary to stop it,” stated Gianni Rezza, Director of Prevention at the Ministry of Health, at a press conference on Thursday evening.