Singing songs from balconies, children hanging posters from their windows, the once crowded streets almost completely empty. No one could have predicted that this would be daily routine in Rome. Italy was one of the first countries in Europe to be affected by Covid-19, and thus one of the first to apply quarantine and lockdown measures. Unlike the more relaxed rules of the UK, exercise is not a valid reason to go outside and only necessary trips, such as buying food and medicine, or essential work are allowed.
It has been almost two months since Giuseppe Conte imposed a national quarantine, yet the people of Rome are still going strong, and although some are frustrated that the lockdown has gone on this long, most are very aware of the risk posed to either them or their older relatives. Further south, the situation is far from ideal. Tourism, one of the biggest sources of income for Italy, faces an uncertain future, resulting in high unemployment and salary cuts. However positive signs that the spread of the virus is decreasing, and concern over its economic impact, has meant that the Italian government recently announced that the lockdown will be gradually relaxed from early May.
Yet not all news in Italy is bad news. In Rimini, children with autism have been allowed to go to small parks under a strict timetable, and managed by the respective municipality. In Venice, swans and fish have been spotted in the now clear waters of the once murky canals. Here in Rome, fans of A.S. Roma have been delivering food to elderly fans of the club, who would be put in danger by going outside themselves.
Perhaps what other countries can learn from the situation in Italy today is that in times of hardship and disease, the most important thing to do is to listen to government advice and stay home to prevent further transmission. There is, and will always be, light at the end of the tunnel when we work together as a community.