Italy’s 60 million people on Tuesday were under lockdown with public events cancelled, movement restricted and schools and universities closed, in a drastic bid to slow the pace of COVID-19 infections.
According to the sweeping measures announced on Monday by the government in Rome, people across the country are only allowed to leave their home for a few reasons, including grocery shopping, visits to the doctor and care for elderly or sick relatives.
Overnight, panicked shoppers made a run on 24-hour supermarkets, in spite of the government insisting this is not necessary as people are still allowed to leave their homes to buy food.
A report says the message is to make people to stay inside and avoid socialising.
Cinemas and theatres were closed nationwide.
Shops, bars and restaurants were only open to a limited extent.
The nationwide emergency measures followed quickly on the heels of travel restrictions for large parts of northern Italy adopted on Sunday.
The closure of all schools, universities and kindergartens has been extended from mid-March to at least early April.
However, international train and flight connections, as well as local public transport, have not been restricted by Rome.
Italy has the largest number of COVID-19 cases outside of mainland China.
Since it was first detected in Italy in February, almost 10,000 people have contracted it, with 463 deaths.
Hospitals in the hard-hit north report they are at capacity and places in the intensive care units are scarce.