The New Normal During The Italian Lockdown

Reka and Pier's boots
Reka and Pier's boots

What the Italian lockdown really means

Beyond the already well-known rules of no gatherings, no sports events, schools closed, work from home, etc, these are some of the other rules affecting us:

  • Rule number one: We stay home. People can go out to go to work or for health reasons or other needs, such as going to the grocery store/pharmacy or to buy essential goods. However, we must be able to prove it with a self-declaration that we are going somewhere for those reasons.

    For example, our butcher is in the next village. To buy meat, we have to have the self-declaration paper that says why we are going to where we want to go, to show the police. Another example: the closest electronic store is a 15-minute drive from here but in another province. We really need to ask ourselves if it’s essential to go and buy a new hoover now or if it can wait until after April 3rd. In case we need a new laptop for work, then it’s a different matter, of course.
  • Don’t get in the car without the self-declaration document! The paper has already been sent by email to us but can also be downloaded here. We can’t leave the house without these, and we can be stopped and checked.

    In the case of false declarations, there can be financial sanctions and prison sentences. The worse sanction is life imprisonment if the person is found guilty of increasing the epidemic spread of the virus on purpose.
Italian Self-Declaration Document
  • There are no blocked or fixed checkpoints on the roads preventing people from moving. The municipal police and the other police forces will check the papers.

    It’s not a war zone. The roads and streets are clear; we may be stopped and asked for our self-certifying papers.
  • We can go to the parks, see family members and exercise outdoors, always with the self-declaration, and keeping one meter (3.3 feet) distance from other people.
  • Product transportation is not impacted, thankfully, although our pallet of wine destined for the US is still waiting to be picked up.
  • Restaurants and bars can open from 6.00 to 18.00. The owner has to organize things so that people can stay one meter away from each other. If they don’t, the bar will be shut down. This means no espressos, cappuccinos, and aperitivos at the bar, and no dinners served at bars and restaurants. Home delivery of meals can be done after 18:00, but as we’re in the country, this isn’t relevant anyway. Most takeaways need to be picked up at the restaurant because they don’t do home delivery.
  • Holiday travel has to be avoided. Italian and foreign tourists who are already on vacation must limit their travels and return home. Airports and railway stations remain open so tourists can get home; in reality, with all companies canceling their flights to and from Italy, this is difficult. Anyone landing in Italy will now have to explain their travel motivation and no one can get off the cruises in Venice.

Keeping distance has been the most comfortable behavior change so far. At the grocery store where we have to stand in line at the cashier or take products off the shelves with people close by, we have kept the distance and respected each other’s turn in getting to the products on shelves. Keeping distance and respecting turns has also led to looking at each other in the eyes and smiling at strangers because “who goes first?”. There is an unspoken cordiality we didn’t have before when all we cared about was getting the shopping done. Now we take time, and it feels nice.

The biggest change is how quickly we have adjusted to the way our lives have been curtailed. This is the new normal.

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