We are locked down abroad…not to be confused with being locked up abroad. Thought I’d blog since lots of people are checking on us to make sure we are okay and ask what the lockdown means.
Today is day #3 of lockdown. We are not sick, we do not know anybody who is sick, and we do not know anybody quarantined for coming into contact with someone who tested positive either. We are under lockdown, teleworking from home, and doing our part to stop the further spread of this virus. The trending Italian hashtag is #iorestoacasa which means “I stay at home.”
The new decrees and regulations seem to be constantly evolving and becoming stricter as we go. Originally, shops, bars, and restaurants could be open from 6 am to 6 pm, as long as people maintained one meter distance apart, and outdoor time in the park was allowed as long as people did not get too close. If you needed to move between municipalities you had to have an allowable reason (emergency or work) and carry a self-certification form. There was no limit on taking a walk with the dog or going to the park to exercise, as long as it was not group exercise.
The new decree issued last night enacted stricter regulations. Nothing can be open, no commercial activity, except for grocery stores and pharmacies. If you need to get something, you can send only one person per household, and you need a self-certification form for any time out of the house. I believe this includes walking the dog. How convenient that we do not own a printer! (If we do get stopped the police can supply us with a form on the spot) It’s not illegal to go for a walk or jog, but they ask that you stay home as much as possible.
Grocery stores and pharmacies must limit the number of people who can be in the store at one time. Everyone forms a line outside the store, distanced one meter apart from each other, and they let one person in per one person out. Italians are notorious for cutting lines, and I was impressed by how well everyone seemed to be respecting these lines…until someone tried to cut me in line at the pharmacy this morning! A lot of small shops have posted signs, like the ones below, indicating how many people are allowed in based on the size of the store. They have no problem telling you to wait outside and will bark at you if you stand too close to another customer.
We see a heavy police presence, but have not been stopped. This morning we were out walking the dog, when our friend passed by on his motorino on his way to work. He was wearing a helmet and sunglasses, and we did not recognize him. He aggressively yelled at us in Italian to show him our documents. I’ll be honest, I panicked. I had my documents, but no still no self-certification form. Then he started laughing. It was funny…you know…except for the mild panic attack.
The weather has been absolutely beautiful since this started, with blue cloudless skies every day. We have been spending a lot of time in our garden, hanging with the dog and working in the sunshine. Our neighbors whose terrace overlooks our garden have a two year old who loves our dog. We have been chatting from one floor apart. She yells down “bao bao,” what Italian kids call dogs that mimics the bowwow sound. It’s adorable. Her parents are saying “how do we entertain a two year old all day and get work done?” All of the parents I know are going crazy!
I made the mistake of checking the calendar yesterday. The lockdown is scheduled to end April 3, which did not sound that far away until I looked at the calendar and discovered it is 25 days of lockdown. That’s assuming it ends as scheduled, and who knows what further restrictions will come out either.
A word to my friends and family in the US and other countries… Does anybody really know what the appropriate amount of caution is? Is Italy going overboard? Is it doing enough? I am not sure, but I do know that Italy is suffering. Forget how much of a disruption it is to be on lockdown (a big disruption, but I can handle it). Look at the medical system. Hospitals are overrun, there are not enough doctors, there are not enough ventilators… Stay home if you can, and take this seriously.