Weather’s great, at least that, because everything else is out of kilter. The news from the north has been on TV non-stop for a couple of weeks now, with ghostly pictures of Milan, Brescia, Venice et al, but we somehow thought it wouldn’t touch us here in Rome.
Then last weekend came a mix of government declarations, and no less than some 20.000 people rushed down south on Sunday, to be “home” when the worst of the restrictions would hit. Trains, buses full, even someone apparently took a taxi all the way to Rome and it cost her some 1.200 euros.
What all these people didn’t realize was that, apart from apparently “bringing” the virus down to the rest of the country, they would be placed in automatic self-quarantine for 14 days. Anyway.
Reaction locally hadn’t been very noticeable until today. Yesterday you still had people crammed into coffee bars, hogging space, pushing to get served their cappuccinos and cornetti. Today people have started to pay attention to signs, which go from general information, to notices to keep at least a meter between people, to other ones saying the place could get closed down if rules aren’t respected.
As all bars and restaurants have to close by 6 pm, the pizzerias in the area have put up signs saying you can order take-out later, go by to pick it up or have it sent home … on condition you don’t touch the person delivering. Yes, don’t touch.
As I said, good thing the weather’s nice. The local supermarket is open, but only lets about 10 people inside at a time, so there’s the longest queue outside. Pharmacies are open too, but there, only 2 clients can get in at a time: the area around the closest one looks more like a football crowd waiting outside the stadium. And old-fashioned habits are back, not new-fangled modern push-buttons: when you get there, you holler “who’s the last person?” and take it from there…
Everyone I know is working online. Some behavior I find strange, like the friends who decided to go back up north for the next 3 weeks. North? Yes, because that’s where their relatives are. Others I heard about left Milan last week (the northern quarantine was already ongoing) for Lecce in the deep south, just to attend a family First Communion, and then calmly drove back home. Their relatives were livid.
Apparently it’s now officially a world pandemic.
Haven’t managed to find a protective “mask” yet, but today maybe one person every twenty did have one. I’ve been given the address of a pharmacy where I might (maybe) find one. I’m setting off at daybreak tomorrow. Wish me luck.