Diary in Rome: A day in locked-down Italian town-Xinhua

Diary in Rome: A day in locked-down Italian town

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2020-03-11 08:45:59

Editor's note: The decree of the Italian government putting the country under lockdown goes into effect on Tuesday and will last till April 3, in a bid to prevent the ongoing coronavirus epidemic from spreading.

What does the life look like under a lockdown? Below is the diary from Grandesso Federico, an Italian national residing in Padova, northern Italy, recording his life in the first day of the national lockdown.

by Grandesso Federico

PADOVA, Italy, March 10 (Xinhua) -- It seemed a normal day today when at 8:50 a.m. I, wearing a mask, took a taxi to a bank. The driver, a charming lady, informed me that she didn't see a traffic slowdown in comparison to yesterday and she was even surprised that on the Padova-Bologna highway there were even some traffic jams.

Very curious about the newly imposed restrictions on movements, I asked her if, hypothetically, she could drive me to the Venice airport. Her answer was yes but "you will have to fill an auto certification on which, under your responsibility, confirm that you are traveling for work or emergency reasons. Police could stop us and ask where we are going," she said.

The interesting thing was that the second taxi driver I encountered was completely unaware of all these rules. At this point, I clearly realized that it would take time for the average citizens, as well as for bus, tram and taxi drivers, to understand and interpret the new "hard" rules.

Navigating in the city, I still saw many people not wearing a mask. Upon arriving at my destination, I joined a short queue in front of the bank. We entered slowly, one by one, and only by appointment.

Everybody there seemed to be surprised I was wearing a mask and they asked me if I was fine. After a bit of explanation, they were convinced I was indeed fine.

After my necessary bank operations were over, the bank employee started asking if I might be interested in a heath insurance -- they seemed telling me that in this period, the public services could not work very efficiently.

I listened politely to them, after which I booked my second taxi with a small doubt in my mind: "Would it be really better for me to subscribe to a new health insurance?"

When I arrived at home, I started calling the coffee bar but they explained to me that "from today we are closed, but we are doing home delivery, you can order in the morning and we will come by bike if you live close by."

Usually, Italians would not so happy with home delivery -- they prefer savoring their coffee with a brioche seated outside, while reading the daily newspaper.

The coffee bars were open, but one can only eat and drink seated at a table that must be one meter far from another -- that's the rule now.

A few hours on the street led me to feel the anxiety from the taxi drivers and the owner of the bar. They agreed in principle with the muscular measures against the coronavirus, but they also expect stronger support from the government.

Also, there is a large group of precarious or independent workers who are very much concerned about the measures' effect on their livelihood.

The bar owner said: "How can I survive weeks and weeks if I don't sell my products? The government has to confirm there are financial aids for our line of work. We don't have a 'safe' salary like the state civil servants."

My journey in the city center of Padova continued to a take-away pizza shop. The owner was also very discouraged. She earned very little yesterday and today. She said: "I see very few people in the street today and I'm really frustrated, the government can close our doors but has to support us as well."

About the same time, I met an owner of a tobacco shop. He told me that the tobacco authorities that distribute smoking products sent him a notice.

"They asked us not to make big orders because they are not sure that we will continue to stay open for the next days. They asked us to order only little amounts of products."

That was because there were signs, or rumors on the street, that the government was considering a more stringent lockdown, with all shop closed except for pharmacies and supermarkets.

Today, Attilio Fontana, President of Lombardy, urged stronger measures for public transportation on local and regional routes.

Furthermore, in the city center, I visited five pharmacies and astonishingly no one could sell me a protective mask or a hand sanitizer. Someone working there even told me "they are finished, for months."

The total infections today in Veneto, which my town Padova is part of, reached 856 with 67 in intensive case. There were a total of 26 deaths.

In Padova, the lockdown is tolerated for the moment, but an unpredictable discontent might also be in the air.

Despite the generally tense atmosphere, I saw young lovers holding hands. I could also see sometimes fierce "resistance" attitude from some young people to the "imposed and cold" rules.


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