In 2003, I studied abroad in Rome for the Summer. While there, I took a two hour train ride to Pescara, Abruzzo to meet and visit with some family for the first time. It was one of the better experiences on my journey that summer as I made life long relationships with cousins. One of those cousins was a very inquisitive boy named Marco. He was probably nine at the time and was so interested about me and my background and 17 years later, we still keep in touch. We’ve been chatting throughout COVID to see how everyone is doing and what the future holds for us all. I thought it might be nice to share a conversation we had for the newsletter about how Italy is doing.
Here’s what he had to say:
- Which businesses are still closed?
- At the moment only night clubs are closed (since August, they were reopened in June). The other businesses are still opened with some limitations.
- Can restaurants open inside? Right now, our restaurants are still closed inside. Restaurants can open inside, provided that:
- They can guarantee social distancing.
- Everyone, except for clients only when they sit at their table, wears a mask.
- The restaurants must close at midnight.
- The clients must provide their contacts in order to be traced in case of a positive case during their meal.
- The maximum number of clients per table is 6.
- What was takeout like before COVID? What is it like now?
- Takeout was mainly for pizza, and for some places that only do takeout (rosticcerie). With the lockdown delivery has exploded, while takeout was not possible. After the lockdown it went back to basically the same level of before: less people go to the restaurants, but more choose delivery.
- Same question as above but in regards to delivery.
- Delivery was spread especially among young people using apps like Deliveroo, Justeat or UberEats. With the lockdown delivery has enormously increased: almost every family has ordered food during those months, and even now, without the lockdown, delivery is much more spread than before, since people are a bit afraid of going to the restaurants, and have seen that having food brought to your home is not that bad.
- What are some cultural changes you feel will “stick” in Italy? For example, everyone here has adjusted to working and having appointments via Zoom now.
- Zoom, and videocalls in general (like Skype or Microsoft Teams for example) will definitely stick, even if there is resistance from the older generations (as you know Italians are older than Americans).
- I also think that there will be in the future more attention to the hygiene (washing hands thoroughly when you come back home) and maybe a stronger tendency to keep distances.
- How does the population feel about wearing masks?
- Except for a very small minority everyone wears a mask. This summer, with a very low rate of cases and a very warm weather People were a bit less enthusiast, but in the past month everyone started wearing it also outside. A new law has just been published in order to force everyone to always wear a mask outside (inside public places it was always compulsory), so now 99.9% of people you see in the streets wear a mask, but even before the law (last week) I would say 95%.
- How is 6 feet social distancing going?
- I am surprised of the successful application of social distancing. Everyone knows that we can be chaotic in queues for example, but I see that now in case of queue people usually respect the distance. Also inside places or on public transport people are generally careful, even without more formal obligations like signs.
- What is the industry that was hit the hardest by COVID?
- That’s a tough choice, of course restaurants were hit hard, but with delivery they managed to limit the damage. Nightclubs and bars are not in good shape, but also air travel is very low (like in the US). And let’s not forget about hotels.. This crisis has hit hard many many people.
- Which city is doing the best? Which is doing the worst?
- During the first wave Milan and its surroundings (especially Bergamo) were the center of the contagion, while the South was not hit as hard. At the moment the second wave is getting stronger in Naples and Milan. For the moment Pescara has been spared from a huge increase in cases, but in these weeks everyone in Europe fears the second wave, which is coming. No one wants another lockdown, which would be catastrophic for the economy, but the lockdown has proved to be a good measures to stop the spreading. Without a lockdown the virus could hit everywhere, and you can really feel fear in the streets, or on the TV and the medias. At least fear prevents us from being irresponsible!