Living in Italy Lockdown 2.0

Here in Italy, we’re in lockdown, again. I wrote about Living in Lockdown during the first lockdown when Italy was first hit hard by Covid-19 last spring.

We thought it was over, then it wasn’t.  Covid-19 cases in Italy have risen once again.  Experts warned of a second wave, but we were all so eager to “get back to normal” it is starting to spread once again.

The Italian newspaper Il Sole24 Ore reports that we are not in the middle of the second wave, but still in the first wave. In an interview about Sars-CoV virus- 2, Roberto Cauda, ​​Professor of Infectious Diseases at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome said “First of all, let’s not talk about the second wave: as the World Health Organization says, we are still in the first wave because there hasn’t been such a decline in infections to speak of a “reappearance”. Let me be clear: the virus circulates with humans and therefore the closure period has limited its spread, so much so that we have seen a sort of “stagnation” in the months of June and July for the subsequent recovery in August. But we must not think that the virus has changed or that the clinical manifestations it induces have changed: these have remained the same.”

To regular folks like me, it seems like the virus went away or was “weakened” and now it has returned. Some blame this “second wave” on people who went on vacation overseas, some blame the discos, but very few people seem to be blaming mother nature herself. It’s a virus. I am saddened to hear of the many deaths, pain and suffering it has caused, but at the same time I am surprised at how many people try to find someone or something to blame.  I am also quite amazed to see so many people on TV at protests and rallies (here and abroad) not wearing masks and even complaining that having to wear a mask is a violation of their liberty. Would those same people let a heart surgeon operate on them without a mask? If wearing a mask can lower the risk of passing a highly diffused disease, it is a small price to pay.

We cannot create sterile environments everywhere, but we can follow the WHO guidelines;

  • wear a mask
  • wash your hands frequently
  • respect social distancing
  • stay away from crowds and gatherings
  • protect the elderly and others with compromised health

Have you seen the 1995 movie “Outbreak” with Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo? In the movie, a mutated outbreak of a long-lost virus from the African jungle hits middle-America. I haven’t watched it recently, but the one thing that stuck with me the most about this film was the panic and urgency it provokes. There’s a scene where someone sneezes in a cinema and then everyone gets sick. Although “Outbreak” is a fictitious Hollywood film, there is truth in the fact that a flu-virus can really spread that easily and COVID-19 is no different.

A real example was recently reported by Euro Surveillance, Europe’s journal on infectious disease surveillance, “An outbreak of 59 cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) originated with 13 cases linked by a 7 hour, 17% occupancy flight into Ireland, summer 2020. The flight-associated attack rate was 9.8–17.8%. Spread to 46 non-flight cases occurred country-wide. Asymptomatic/pre-symptomatic transmission in-flight from a point source is implicated by 99% homology across the virus genome in five cases travelling from three different continents. Restriction of movement on arrival and robust contact tracing can limit propagation post-flight.” Source: Euro Surveillance

Some governments around the world are closing businesses, implementing regulations, and limiting travel. Here in Italy, they were one of the first to impose such “drastic” measures as the virus hotspot quickly expanded.

We first went into lockdown on March 8, 2020 and passed through various phases of lockdown until September 14, 2020 when all businesses and schools opened and everything seemed normal except for having to always wear a mask in public.

On Nov 4, 2020 Italy was instructed to go into lockdown again and each region has been classified with color codes. The Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, issued the Dcpm, Presidential Decree of November 3, 2020 with new measures aimed to combat and contain the Covid-19 emergency. These measures will remain in force from November 6 to December 3. After which each region will be assed and a new decree will be issued.

This time lockdown in Italy is different

Last time, the lockdown was the same throughout the country. This time, each region has been given a color code based on its risk factor and the rules are different in each region. Last time, we couldn’t even go out for a walk. This time, having the choice to go out for some fresh air is a big relief. Last time, people were singing from their balconies and sharing recipes and memes on WhatsApp. This time, nobody is singing or chatting. Last time, people spent their lockdown time catching up on online courses and self-improvement. This time, I think there is a general atmosphere of inertia and feeling stuck. The regular routines we were just getting back into have been pulled away from under our feet. 

The New Colors of Italy

Yellow, orange and red. Color codes are assigned by the government and the Minister of Health and will depend on the degree of risk and local statistics reported in each region.

Color codes

Yellow, moderate criticality
Orange medium to high criticality
Red high alert

The following rules have been applied to all of Italy:

  • nationwide curfew 10 pm to 5 am, you need a self -signed certificate stating your reasons for being out, necessary shopping, medical or emergencies are the only reason you should go out.
  • all exhibitions and museums closed
  • middle schools and high schools are closed and doing distance learning, with the exception of laboratory/workshop activities which can be carried out in person;
  • preschools and kindergartens, primary and elementary schools will remain open but masks are mandatory with the exception for children under 6 years of age
  • all shopping centers are closed on holidays and weekends; malls and shopping centers, except for pharmacies, food outlets, tobacconists and newsstands
  • 50% maximum capacity on public transport of local and regional rail transport

Red Zone

Lombardy is now in the “red zone”. In addition to the above national regulations, here in the Red Zone:

  • No travel into and out of the Region, or within the area itself, except for emergency, work or medical reasons.
  • All stores are closed except for groceries, pharmacies and newsagents.
  • No non-food markets.
  • All bars, pubs, restaurants, ice cream parlors, pastry shops are closed. Only home delivery and take away is allowed until 10 pm.
  • All sports activities are suspended, including outdoor sports, with the exception of national or international competitions with CONI or CPI authorization.
  • Gyms, swimming pools, wellness centers, and spas are closed, as well as cultural centers, social centers and recreation centers, except for those defined as centers providing assistance, for example physiotherapy.
  • You are allowed to carry out individual, outdoor sport activities (walking, jogging, cycling, yoga in the park etc.) provided that you keep distance from others and wear a mask when possible (not necessary while cycling or jogging).
  • All businesses relating to personal services remain open including hairdressers, and barbers, but beauticians are closed.
  • Companies are urged to implement working from home for employees and limit number of employees working together. 

The regions with the yellow and orange color codes still have travel restrictions but have fewer limits and closures. For example, in yellow regions restaurants remain open and shops are open but not on weekends. In orange regions, restaurants remain closed, but it seems you can play sports.

The color codes will be updated every week or so. We will just have to see what happens.

How am I dealing with Italy Lockdown 2.0?

I am quite lucky to have job I can do online. My job at Easy Milano, Expats Living in Italy, has always been remote working and I can continue with my blogging and freelance work.   I have created a space at home to do Pilates workouts and with the new lockdown regulations, walking and jogging is still permitted. In my spare time I make jewelry – need any Christmas gifts? In short, I keep busy.

No one knows what will happen, but if we follow the guidelines, we should stay safe.

Feel free to write if you have any other questions and I will do my best to answer and share my personal experience.

This article originally appeared on my blog LakeComoStyle.com https://LakeComoStyle.com

Celia Abernethy

Celia is the founder and managing editor at MilanoStyle.com. Originally from New York, she now spends her time between Milan and Lake Como sharing her discoveries and experiences living in Italy. Follow @CeliaAbernethy on Twitter