#Italylockdown is ending. Yay?
Just when we were starting to get the hang of this lockdown thing…
#Italylockdown ends tomorrow, after almost two months. This short post just collects some meaningful facts in this particular moment, as corollary to all my other chronicles of coronavirus in Italy, but especially as introductory reading to my first post-lockdown post)
Children may be fine. Or sociopaths. Almost one month ago, I was worrying about the indirect, that is adult-originated COVID19 stress for children and teenagers. This week, I discovered that italian psychologists warned that children and teenagers may bear the biggest INDIRECT impacts of COVID19. And I also discovered that a kindergarden in Varese plans to reopen after lockdown with test bracelets that beep when children get too close to each other. If this practice becomes commonplace, children may take it as a harmless play, and a fun way to stress tutors, or grew up sociopathic like the ones in Asimov’s Solaria.
Chaos in bureaucracy and laws increases. Retroactively. The self-certification modules and procedures that all we italians have been using for two months may be illegal, because they force people who could not get testing to declare that they are not COVID19-positive, which would be a crime if they aren’t. Driving schools know when they may reopen, but have no idea yet of how to manage practical driving lessons and exams, since theoretically if two people share a car, the passenger must be on the back seat to increase distance.
Common sense is still present, here and there. A judge in Rome decreed the City cannot exclude immigrates from food stamp distribution. 350 kms north, the famous “Cinque Terre” villages are broke, but happy. They spontaneously locked themselves down so well that they got (as of April 22nd) zero tourists, zero contagions and therefore no intention to reopen yet.
COVID19 prevention touches everything. The major of the village of Roccafranca, Lombardy, issued an order to sanitize after EVERY game the common decks of cards available in local bars and pubs.
People struggle, and “smart working” is expensive. Unemployment insurance has been still not paid to many, six weeks after beginning of lockdown. Riders wait in line to pick up goods outside restaurants and shops for hours, at 3 Euros per hour, without masks. Inside homes, instead, “Smart” working is safer, but expensive. For employees, not employers, as prices of printers, computers and accessories have increase up to 250%.
The economy is not coming back
Not the one of 2019, anyway, no matter how many bail-out and support packages come. Around us, “Absent vaccine, airline industry may be gutted for years”, the world in general may “NEVER recover its thirst for oil” and COVID-19 is pushing US’s weakest public pension plans closer to the brink. Nothing of this spells real recovery for a country that depends on selling lots of sophisticated goods abroad, from tourist experiences to high-end fashion, food and mechanics.
Inside Italy, and then everywhere else, I guess, “Buying cars will be like going to the dentist”: only by appointment. In the short term, making car purchases as automatic as ordering on Amazon is another class of jobs that will not go back. In the long run, making car purchases as glamourous as paying bills at the post office may be another death blow for carmakers. Probably good for traffic and air pollution, eventually. Another, much more serious consequence of the outbreak is the impact on universities: italian rectors fear up to 20% LESS new students next year, unless fees are waived.
Dangerous, or stupid news are everywhere
Italian and foreign media continue to publish and comment meaningless numbers. It makes no sense to say that USA has now more deaths than Italy, because USA has about five times more citizens. What matters is number of deaths, contagions, whatever… per 10K people, or similar figures. It is a huge disservice to mention total numbers, but everybody does it.
Worldwide, China mocks the US, greatly helped in this by the US themselves, of course. Still in the US, copyright holders are demanding schools repurchase things they already owned, reading a book over a zoom call to be a public performance not covered in the same way as a teacher reading the book to room. One can’t just hope this will spread like the virus. Speaking of which, you may have missed that workers of Amazon, Whole Foods and others keep track of undeclared COVID19 outbreaks inside their facilities here.