Update from Italy: Phase 2 Reopening

View of the Arno from Piazzale Michelangelo, just below San Miniato. Could this be in my near future, in person? yes i will wear the mascherina yes i will keep the very safe distance! Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

Quick recap! Our Italian lockdown went into effect on March 9, with a few final things taken off the board in mid-March (playgrounds, parks, outside time more than 200m from your home). That’s been our reality to date. A hour or so a day in the garden, painting and playing badminton like an E.M. Forster novel (the Honeychurch family comes to mind). The other 23 hours a day have been at home.

All told, we’ve borne up well as a family. People are rested and fed and clothed, and our apartment is relatively clean and tidy, and certainly well-provisioned with food and drink. Jason and I are still working. Vic has been following school lessons online and slaying his YouTube metrics. Eleanor makes a lot of spontaneous art. The government owns our timelines and permissions. For me, this is ok. Spain and Italy are, right now, each at about 25,000 known fatalities attributable to C19. Had the governments not taken action, had we not gone into quarantine, I have no doubt losses would have been much more severe.

On April 14, heavy industry went back to work in Italy, in Phase 1 of our reopening. And, last night, Italian PM Giuseppe Conte held a presser about Phase 2 of the reopening. My switchboard starting lighting up with many mad-face emojis (Italian threads) and in-depth wondering (English threads). Italians are frustrated by how quickly they believe the rest of Europe is reopening, while Italy lags behind. (I’m less sure … France, and Spain, io vi guardo. I am looking at you.) While this new step will hardly provide an Edenic freedom, it will permit long walks (with face mask and permission slip) more than 200m from your home. This is itself is all I need. Permission slips will be revisited on May 18. They might look into getting some face masks for the polizia.

We can also take the kids out, one at a time, into the piazza for a walk. Playgrounds will still be closed.

No visits to friends’ houses or apartments. Families can visit, observing strict social distancing, facemasks, etc. Social gatherings of all kinds remain prohibited. Bars and restaurants can fill to-go orders, but no seating on premises.

Our tata (kidsitter plus!), the amazing Risha, will slowly ease back into a reduced schedule to help us out with kids and the apartment, since no children will be returning to school prior to September. She is going stir crazy in her home a few blocks form us. We have continued to pay her during the quarantine, as she is on a contract with us. Time has gone faster and faster as we have become used to this new at-home mode.

I do feel concerned about this fairly ambitious timeline to reopen everything else. I understand that every phase will be scrutinized against hospital loads and positive C19 tests. I just worry that we’ll backslide and lose the ground gained to date, pushing us all back into a quarantine like the past seven weeks. We know some of what we don’t know, but there are still so many unknown unknowns about the virus.

I’m glad to be getting a little freedom. If I can take one walk per day, I will be happy. I could even take the same walk every day. I don’t care, rain or shine. Fiesole or San Miniato, here I come. Maybe even on alternating days!