Italy was successful in containing the early wave of Europe's coronavirus attack in March this year, enforcing a rigid three-month lockout that kept the virus at bay, but nearly disabled its economy.
Now, with virus infections surpassing the 1 million mark, another round of lockdowns has made Italians worried about the economic repercussion and exhausted of the return to constraints on daily life.
The return to a second national shutdown is needed as health experts insist the measures carried out by the government are not enough to stop the distressing spread of coronavirus.
An additional 623 COVID-linked fatalities were registered late Wednesday, the highest daily infection since early April, and 32,961 new cases were tallied. Italy is the third nation in Europe, after France and Spain, to exceed a million cases.
Doctors said there would be 10,000 more deaths in the next 30 days unless drastic measures are taken. Italy currently has 29,444 people confined in medical facilities for COVID - the biggest number since the pandemic broke out.
According to the National Association of Internal Medicine Doctors, Italy's hospitals are near breaking point because of staff shortage, lack of beds and the "abnormal influx" of COVID patients they are facing.
Silvio Brusaferro, the director of Italy's Higher Health Institute, said the country's intensive care units are in danger of being overwhelmed by the number of new COVID patients.
In the southern city of Naples, people were being treated for the virus in their cars as they wait outside hospitals. One of the reasons for the disorder is that people are scrambling to get into emergency rooms even when they're only having mild symptoms.
Health authorities say it will take at least two weeks to assess the effectiveness of current measures but the pandemic's impact on the economy is already clear.
Around 100,000 retail businesses in the Lombardy region have shut their doors, including 50,000 night clubs and food establishments. Travel restrictions forced Rome-based Italo, one of Italy's two high-speed rail operators, to suspend most of its service and furlough most of its 1,500 employees.