Life goes on for Italians under COVID-19 lockdown | Daily News


 

Life goes on for Italians under COVID-19 lockdown

People wearing a protective mask ride their bicyclke along the river Tiber in Rome, as life goes on for Italians despite the shutting down of stores except for pharmacies and food shops in a desperate bid to halt the coronavirus. - AFP
People wearing a protective mask ride their bicyclke along the river Tiber in Rome, as life goes on for Italians despite the shutting down of stores except for pharmacies and food shops in a desperate bid to halt the coronavirus. - AFP

ITALY: Since Monday, 60 million Italians have been adapting to sweeping restrictions to contain the coronavirus which have upended almost every aspect of daily life, from getting groceries to going for a run.

Late on Wednesday the curbs were tightened even further, with all shops deemed non-essential ordered to close their doors.

If they cannot take advantage of working remotely or a spot of impromptu leave, Italians are permitted to go to work, but must carry “self-declarations” stating this is necessary. These declarations can be checked and kept by the police.

Public transport and taxis are still running, but whether there is anyone to take them is another matter.

In Milan, 59-year-old taxi driver Daniele says: “There are no clients; lots of colleagues are already staying at home with nothing to do.” Travelling for the purpose of getting healthcare or buying essential supplies is also permitted, as is going out for some exercise -- as long as someone is on their own and not in a group.

Parks and public gardens can stay open “to ensure the continuance of sport and physical activity in the open”.

The transport of goods and animals is also allowed. Trips for the purposes of tourism are “absolutely to be avoided”, says the government, with a vital economic sector grinding to a virtual halt.

Tourists already in the country are to restrict their movements to those necessary to return home.

On Monday, officials in the mountainous Val d'Aosta region, normally a popular ski destination, called on tourists to leave.

“The region only has one hospital,” Mauro Baccega, the regional official in charge of health care, told the Ansa news agency.

The health system is “already under stress, and having to provide care to non-residents can only aggravate the situation”, he added.

All cultural, sporting and religious events have been cancelled. Sports fixtures organised by international bodies are still going ahead, but without spectators.

Schools and universities are closed and are exploring new ways to reach students through distance learning. Late Wednesday, the government announced bars and restaurants would be shut, having previously been permitted to open between 6am and 6pm, but would still be allowed to make home deliveries. Many establishments had already decided to close, with one restaurant in the Trastevere quarter of Rome sporting a sign announcing that when it reopens there will be a “free carbonara day” for all doctors, nurses and healthcare workers “heroically fighting this battle”.

Places of worship are open, but ceremonies such as marriages, baptisms, funerals and Muslim Friday prayers are banned.

Mourners in a funeral procession in Sicily were even slapped with fines for turning out.

Late on Wednesday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that all shops except “basic necessities”, such as food stores and pharmacies, would be shut.

However, the government later put out a list of other exceptions, including laundries, newsagents, stores selling communications equipment, pet shops -- and funeral parlours.

Following some panic buying after the initial raft of measures were announced late Monday, the government has repeatedly insisted there are no shortages of essential supplies and that customers should not panic buy.

Nevertheless, food stores saw a marked uptick in customers and sales volumes on Thursday morning, according to the president of Italy's Food Retailers' Association Donatella Prampolini. “Customers are favouring large purchases so they don't have to come to the stores as frequently,” Prampolini told the Ansa agency. - AFP


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