So far, the biggest thing to come out of 2020 has been Coronavirus, can anyone think of anything else? Whilst we watched Wuhan being locked down and witnessed their deserted streets, their empty supermarkets and listened to their frightening death toll rise, we were safe in the knowledge that it wouldn’t touch us, they were miles and miles away.
Then, shortly after, Italy closed down villages to contain the virus! People still went about their business and we all thought, ‘It’s ok, they’ll be over it soon and everything will go back to normal, poor Italy.’
But it didn’t stop.
Next thing we know, Italians were put on lockdown; everyone to stay indoors, no one could leave the house without a permit and if you did and got caught, you could expect to pay a €200 fine. Eek!
And now it’s us.
Not quite on lockdown (yet) but today’s announcement of school closure is a pretty good sign that it’s next on the agenda. We have all seen it coming but maybe some of us are still unprepared and uneasy at the thought of spending soooo much time with our loved ones.
Luckily for me, my daughter Megan lives in Italy, on beautiful Lake Garda, with her partner Ale and my granddaughter Gracey and we’ve been keeping a very strong contact this past month. I’ve heard things that make me want to cry and so many friends have been in touch sending me advice and warnings of what is to come.
As they are a month ahead of us, who better to ask for top tips on how to stay sane in this crazy period? What should we be expecting? How are we going to cope?
I asked them a few questions that I thought might help us as we too enter this unique moment in the history of our world. I hope they help and do let me know if there are other questions you would like answered, they’re at home and it’s the perfect opportunity for Gracey to practise her English.
What was the Italians first reaction to the lockdown and what did you do to make it feel better?
Megan: I have to say, the Italian’s first reaction was more or less like the English people – the majority thought it was just a simple flu, they remembered that flu kills hundreds of people every year so yes, they accepted that there are some cases and they have been locked down. Everything is fine.
Some decided to go on a skiing holiday because when the rumour of Coronavirus started to spread, hotels were receiving cancellations from all over the world. The ski resorts, along with some politicians support through the media, sent out very attractive last minute holidays. Together with the fact kids were home from schools as they had been shut down, everyone thought it was a great idea to go on a holiday and boost the Italian economy.
I couldn’t get my head round this. I kept asking myself – How come China locked down an entire city with over 60 million people, warning them, that if they leave their house they would be shot! And this should be a normal flu?
Then another thing was worrying me, the numbers on TV. Everyone was saying that there was only a 2% chance of dying but knowing this virus was spreading very fast, if not contained it would have spread through whole country. If 60 million people were to be infected, 1,5 million people (2%) would die!
Here in the UK, people have been panic buying, our supermarkets are empty, there is no toilet roll, no paracetamol and so many products are hard to find. How do you manage to shop and eat well?
At first, some people went crazy, shopping as if we were about to go up against a long ”carestia” (famine). People queued for hours with very long queues through car parks and streets as there is the rule of keeping a 1 meter distance and only a few people at a time can enter the shop. So, the government decided to calm the population by saying that all supermarkets will stay open, that food will always be delivered and food companies will remain open. That calmed everyone down.
You can’t see any family members and we have loved ones that have underlying health issues. How are you keeping in touch with everyone?
Whatsapp. We have a lot of time now for social media :) We keep an eye on #andrátuttobene (everything will be ok) There is a lot of amazing people out there that all come together in a time like this.
Gracey, you’ve been off for school quite a while now, how are you keeping up with your studies? Are you worried you might fall behind?
My school was shut down just after the carnival holidays (February half term) and my school decided to use Google classroom to keep in touch and hand us daily homework. I’m not that worried, I don’t really think about that, I have so much homework everyday I don’t have time… but I do like waking up at any time I want, having my breakfast, washing my teeth and then opening my computer still in my pyjama. I usually work till lunchtime then I stop for an hour or more, and then I carry on until I finish everything.
Megan, you and Ale run your own business, now that it’s shut down how are you coping working from home? How many Italian businesses are suffering and what measures are the government putting in place?
Italians can not afford to shut down business although sometimes you have no choice – this is one of them. At first nothing changed, because people still didn’t understand the gravity of the situation, so people, especially young, kept on going out for an aperitivo, thinking they are fine because if they catch it, they don’t have under health conditions… but they would spread the disease to others, to their loved ones. Every day at 6 pm we get a “bollettino” (update) and everyday the number was rising higher and higher… so everything changed and all shops, bars and restaurants had to shut. But, every day there has still been developments. Nowadays, only food shops, petrol stations and ferramenta (tool shops) are open.
How are you filling your days?
With the same things you would normally do on summer days. The days are getting warmer so we started using the garden we’ve been cleaning, planting and making good use of our time.
I think I’ll be having more time on my hands for my blog over the next few weeks and I’ll be asking people from other countries how they are experiencing the coronavirus. Please stay home, stay safe and look after your loved ones.