by Grandesso Federico
From today, we reached the so-called third level of restrictions -- no more coffee bars, restaurants or unessential shopping.
Midday to around one o'clock in the afternoon used to see normally crowded streets full of students coming back home -- that is, of course, before the epidemic struck and restrictions were imposed. Now, one could only hear the sound of silence.
Just few cars braved the street, suggesting we were not in an entirely dead city. I couldn't think of any other restrictions that would have made my city more deserted and empty.
Today my objective to go out is clear: after days and days of negative answers, I would like to understand why a crucial element in this health battle is missing. I'm talking about the protective masks, the basic tool in the now dangerous pandemic.
However, my daily "pilgrimage" produced only a marginally positive answer: I could now book some masks that may or may not come.
"We hope to get the delivery this week, but we don't know the number, or if the masks would include the filter. Anyway, we will call you when they are available," a pharmacist in the very city center close to Piazza dei Signori told me.
Restrictions and controls are now more evident. Today I met at least 3 patrols, of national and local police, stopping people even in the city center and asking a "justification" -- personally-signed official forms -- to be outside.
In the wider world, Italians are sometimes known for being melodramatic. But something unprecedented is that we now have all the feelings that national authority is not joking, neither is the stipulated punishments for the offense.
Some people are afraid to be confronted by police, or err in the filling of the forms. A mistake or a failure in explaining why you are outside could really end up being a crime now. The authorities will for sure verify with a phone call to your boss, to check if you are really traveling for work, so these signed auto-declarations have to be truthful.
The controls on shops, restaurants and bars are also tight, despite that some are still trying to figure if they could open and continue to earn only a poor daily revenue. Alas, they might just have to close with the anxiety of never being able to open again.
In this battle, I learned now that we need different tools: medical gears like masks, gloves and hand sanitizers but we also need "human" tools.
What is urgently needed right now is solidarity. We must not be just individuals, or atoms separated from one another in the society, trapped personally by the coronavirus; rather, we must join hands.
I don't like to hear, as I did, "why is that lady (owner's shop) still open? " or " teachers and professors, they can enjoy straying home because they still get their salaries". Egoism could also be a despicable virus. If we want to start again after this dark period like after a long war finished, we should keep the same positive spirit. We have to reconstruct the country and ourselves, therefore we need more kindness and empathy.
Going around the empty city is not giving me, for the moment, negative side effects. What worries me, however, is people perhaps are now overly "immersed" in the endless supply of crisis information. Not only is the news now dominated by the coronavirus, but also our conversations were also full of it, resulting in panic and uneasiness.
Perhaps, just perhaps, we should keep a "safe distance" between all this information, just as we are required to do in queues in real life.
Speaking to different people today, I see that an entirely new trend in Italy could usher in a more positive and smart philosophy of working: home-working, a real revolution in my country for both public and private sector jobs.
Staying home without the trouble of terrible traffic jams turns out to be easier. "it is very nice to work from home in cities like Milan and Rome, where you normally live far from the office and you lose more than an hour a day on crowded public transport," my friend Laura said.
The total number of cases in my Veneto region grew to 1,384 today. But at the same time, the good news is coming from Rome's Fiumicino airport, where, at late night, genuine and concrete solidarity comes from afar. Let's talk about this tomorrow....