Coronavirus in Italy, more lockdown

Main points from PM Giuseppe Conte’s last communicate.

Coronavirus in Italy, more lockdown /img/coronavirus-in-italy.jpg

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte just spoke to the nation (*), announcing further lockdown measures. These are the main points:

All retail stores and commercial services open to the public must close: pubs, bars, restaurants, gyms, hairdressers, insurance agencies, stores in general…

Depending on their activity, all companies and industries must close/slow down/send all employees on vacation, or at least telecommuting, as much as they can. This said, companies and industries can remain open, IF they apply adequate measures (personnel shifts to have as less people as possible in building at any moment, masks to employees, continuous adequate sanitation of plants, machinery, toilets…). Similar measures apply to public administrations.

Lockdown exceptions. Until March 25th:

Grocery stores, farmacies, newspaper kiosks, banks and post offices, and other places selling equally necessary primary goods.

Delivery of food and maybe other goods at home remains possible… as long as it does not involve personal contact. Not sure how much this will be possible, in a country where most stores and restaurants accepts digital payments, but only on site, at the desk, not online.

Agriculture and generally any other part of the food supply chain can and must continue. Conte has stressed that there will be, and there must not be, any closure of food stores and no shortage of food.

A special commissioner will be appointed, with full powers to strenghten production, distribution and usage of machinery, drugs, whatever… for Intensive Care Units nationwide.

Final message from Conte: keep calm, and carry on staying put at home. “We will be able to hug each other again, eventually”. Just do not expect any improvement for a couple of weeks at least. But we are all in this together, and we are all doing a good job, the best we can; Italy is now a model, the world is looking at all of us as an example to follow.

What Conte did not announce (but soon will, I hope): suspension of mortgage and other payments (e.g. taxes) to allow small business owners, single professionals, family hotels or restaurants, to stay afloat.

Other updates from the field

This is miscellaneous information in addition to what I already reported yesterday:

  • Correction, added on 2020/03/11, 23:30pm: Retail store that can remain open also include gas stations, hardware stores, cosmetics, pet supplies stores, home cleaning materials and a few others

  • one year ago, I was writing about “How many of us will die (alone) in front of a screen?". This morning, I heard that in some hospitals doctors now help senior COVID-19 patients, who are well aware that they won’t pass the night but are not familiar with their own smartphones, to register and send a farewell video to their families

  • the general idea now is to make as many people as possible stay at home at all times, period. And when we do get our nose out of the door, w must give a valid reason for being outside. Divorced parents can still visit children living with the other parent. But one cannot visit one’s elders, unless they have demonstrable needs for on-site assistance

  • an aunt of mine is grandmother of ~20 kids (I confess I lost count after a while). She told me this morning this week is the first since like forever that she can rest without any grandkids in the house for more than twelve hours. Everybody stays home, period. If you were wondering why Conte spoke about hugs, this is why

  • (this went in force weeks ago, I just forgot to report it yesterday, see below) If we have flu-like symptoms, we must NOT go to our general practitioner, or the closest Emergency Room. We must call the doctor, or a toll free number, report the situation and wait to be picked up by an ambulance if necessary. Absolute prohibition to leave home if you have fever, or have been quarantined

  • apparently, people must now carry the written self-certification that they left home for real necessities at all times, even if walking to the corner grocery store

  • besides self-certification, people going to work must show the police, when asked, also a declaration from their employer

  • Trains, taxis, airports, public transit keep going. In airports, health of all coming and going passengers is checked

  • jogging, biking and walking the dog are allowed, as long as you do it alone, at safe distances from everybody else

  • All large department stores and store chains (Calzedonia, Decathlon) had already announced they are closing. Same for Flixbus

  • every commercial break on almost every TV channel begins with public services announcements reminding what to do and not do

  • Show business is doing their part: some singers are inviting their fans to “virtual concerts” where they broadcast themselves playing and singing in their own living room, to help people cope with being locked at home. A famous soccer player showed himself cleaning the kitchen “so I can stay home as we all must, without getting bored”.

  • All public personalities, from actors to anchorment to the last Instagram influencer, are reminding their followers to follow the rules, to protect OTHERS, and not overwhelm hospitals

  • Anonymous Italia and Whatsapp groups: Anonymous just announced that “Due the catastrophic situation our country is going through, we temporarily suspend our attacks to institutional websites”. Gee, now I feel safe. Meanwhile, I hear that WhatsApp groups remain the greates source of unrestrained idiocies about Coronavirus, not even worth of the “fake news” label

  • last but not least, blood donations: no idea how they are doing, and will do in the next weeks. Or they are even allowed.

IMPORTANT: read this too, thanks

This post is an update of what I wrote yesterday about the Coronavirus lockdown in Italy. Please DO read that post too, from beginning to end, to get a better understanding of the situation, and what it means for everybody, wherever they live. Thanks.

(*) The first draft of this post was put online on March 11th, 2020, 10:30 pm, and then had some minor edits