A Day in the Life of the Italian Lockdown

If you are one of the brave souls leaving your home for a quick errand, there are a couple of things that you need to know. 

Since Italian premier Giuseppe Conte announced Italy’s nationwide shutdown, I have been inside. Mostly, I have been sleeping until noon, writing articles and desperately trying to focus on school work. In my spare moments, I cook pasta and binge-watch Netflix: Emile Ardolino’s Dirty Dancing, Netflix’s documentary-series Don’t F**k with Cats and a variety of other television shows and movies. Little moments like these, when I can keep myself occupied, help me cope with the lockdown, but today I had to go outside. 

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My roommates and I are running out of toilet paper. So, one of us needed to make a quick stop at the store. Please be aware, only one person from each household is allowed outside to make trips like the one I was making. I went alone, excited to escape my bedroom and the cabin fever that was starting to creep in. The lockdown had officially started yesterday, 12 March. It had only been 24 hours, and I was truly starting to feel like Stephen King’s character Jack from The Shining. I’m not murderous, but I’m definitely going crazy. Yet, somehow going outside was worse. 

Rome is becoming a ghost town. Hardly anyone is outside. It’s apocalyptic. When I did see people, they were covering their mouths and noses with the now infamous surgical masks that they hope will spare them of the Coronavirus. The clouds that have taken over the sky made the situation worse. The overcast made everything dull and grey. I was used to sunny Rome, bustling Rome. Walking outside today, I felt like I had been transported to another time and place. I recognized everything around me, but it was somehow different.

If you are one of the brave souls leaving your home for a quick errand, there are a couple of things that you need to know. Most everything is closed. Book stores, clothing stores, gaudy souvenir shops all have a protective metal door barricading the entrance. This isn’t something unusual. We see these doors on a daily basis, but that is typically at night. Now, it is all of the time. Restaurants, cafés, bars, all of the places that typically have an outdoor seating area are packed up and empty.

There are only a few places where you can go. Supermarkets, tabacchi (tobacco shops), pharmacies, petroleum pumps are all open, and as of right now, they will not be closed for the lockdown. Laundries, post offices, banks, newsstands will also remain open.

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However, in all of these public places, please take note of your surroundings. Some smaller supermarkets will only allow a maximum of two customers inside at all times. In every public place, you must stand at least one meter apart from all other patrons.

Museums and monuments are closed and sealed off from public view. All stores and restaurants are closed, including salons and hairdressers. Any big events, like weddings, baptisms and funerals have been canceled or postponed. Schools and universities continue to remain shut down, with most students working remotely from home.

While some places are set in stone, either they are open or closed. Other spaces are hovering in a grey area. Churches remain open. However, all places of worship will not be holding group worship. Funeral parlours remain open, despite the cancellation of funerals. People can still go to work, but the Italian government urges all places of employment to switch to a remote, online work place. All public transportation continues to run. However, time tables will be reduced. Plumbers and mechanics are allowed to remain open, but all workers are allowed to refuse service.

All in all, there’s a lot to remember. What’s open? What’s closed? What’s stuck in this grey area? Above all else, in the midst of this confusion and fear, remember to stay inside, stay healthy and wash your hands.

Remeber to have your Identification document with you as well as a self-certification form to show police or caribinieri in case they ask why you are leaving your residence.

Ph: Em Campos