It’s been 3 months since the government has (almost) lifted lockdown measures in Italy. The coronavirus pandemic in Italy is not over and done with yet, but we are learning to deal with it and hopefully adopt new lifestyle changes to prevent the spread.
March 8, 2020 marked the beginning of lockdown. After reports of a COVID-19 outbreak in the northern town of Codogno, about 70 km from Milan, a national Shelter in Place ordinance was issued. During the lockdown period no one was allowed to leave their home. No kidding. I’m not exaggerating. To leave your home you had to complete a self-declaration stating why you were going out, what time you left, what time you expected to return, and the reason for going out. You couldn’t go to the park with your kids or even walk your dog. Valid reasons were limited to caring for an elderly relative, going to the supermarket or pharmacy or to work (you also had to demonstrate you were needed at your place of work and that you actually worked there). You needed to wear a mask or face covering in public, even outdoors.
Shops, galleries, museums, cinemas, discos, churches and other public places were all closed. Restaurants business hours were limited to 6 am to 6 pm. Many tried to stay in business by offering take-away but many then eventually closed until lockdown was lifted.
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Both national and international travel was brought to a halt.
Big events were affected by the restrictions. Milan Design Week, Salone del mobile was postponed and then eventually cancelled and Fashion week was forced to go entirely digital.
In the early days of lockdown, everyone thought it would be brief and made light of it. Social media was flooded with videos of Italians singing from their balconies, knitting, and making homemade pasta. The mood quickly changed as new restrictions were enforced, the mortality rate increased, and companies started furloughing employees.
March 21, 2020 Italy reached its highest daily rate of 6,557 COVID-19 case. Uncertainty and fear were on everybody’s mind.
The elderly population was affected the most and the loss of loved ones during this time was an overwhelming stress for many. Bedside visits, funerals and memorials were not possible.
May 4, 2020 the Italian government announced it was entering “Phase 2 of lockdown” which meant some lesser constraints. Some businesses were allowed to open with restrictions. Face coverings were obligatory only indoors or outdoors when social distancing was not possible, and group gatherings were limited to no more than 15. Upon entering stores, maximum capacity was limited to 3 – 5 depending on the size of the boutique.
June 15, 2020 Italy entered into phase 3 and cinemas and theatres could open with limited capacity as well as sporting events, summer camps and playgrounds. Nightclubs and discos could open from July 14th but were then closed again a month later.
July 2, 2020 marked an improvement for travel and tourism. Travel was opened to Europeans but not to non- European countries. The thousands of American tourists that Italy depends on for tourism were not able to come. Some tried but faced heavy fines and were sent away.
August 12, 2020 was the unofficial beginning of phase 4 but a government back-step on some rules discouraged many people.
August 16, 2020 discos and dancehalls were closed and the public was once again asked to wear masks even when outdoors from 6 PM to 6 AM while out on summer evening strolls.
Italian families were encouraged by the government to remain in Italy and offered a “holiday bonus” of up to 600 euro to families who earned less than 40,000 euro per year.
August 18, 2020 families who went on vacation to Greece, Spain or Malta, returned to men in white coats taking nose swabs. A new ordinance was released that anyone arriving form Greece, Spain, Croatia or Malta had to be tested within 72 hours. Some tests were done directly at the arrival gates at airports and train stations.
Are we now in Phase 5?
We find ourselves in a new era. It is not clear if this is considered phase 5 – that would be the next logical step, however some reports warn of a new coronavirus spread and increase in cases which may require new measures.
September 14, 2020 schools officially reopened. There are mixed reviews from both students and teachers about the effect these past months of online schooling will have had on the students. It is just too soon to tell. Many schools have returned to normal schedules, yet others have opted for hybrid schedules, alternating in-class and online groups.
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Main photo credit: Giuseppe Argenziano
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