Diary of a Covid-19 Lockdown – A Trini in Italy

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By Bonnie Khan

As of March 9, 2020, Italy has been put on near-total lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. It is the worst hit country outside of China with over 2,000 fatalities and more than 26,000 infected. Bonnie Khan – a Trinidadian living in Venice, Italy – is recording her life during the lockdown.

Tuesday’s developments

  • Number of people with Covid-19 in the Veneto region: 2,704
  • Newly diagnosed: 163 since yesterday

News round-up: Footage of A&E departments in our region show rows of people on respirators waiting to be admitted. The government now wants to test as many people as possible as the curve is not flattening at the rate they expect. They’re also thinking of using surveillance via mobile phones to make sure people stay inside. Across Italy, they’ve hired 1,000 new medical graduates. These people are untrained but will be a big help for the system.

Life under lockdown: Week 1

How do you describe living in a lockdown? Scary? Surreal? Stressful? It’s a little bit of all plus a strange feeling of calm, and yes, even some happiness.

What is lockdown anyway? For us in Italy, it means staying at home and going out only for necessities i.e. to groceries, pharmacies, medical visits, and essential work. All shops, bars, restaurants and museums are closed. Only supermarkets, pharmacies and corner shops are open. Every time you go out, you must carry ID and a Government-issued self-declaration form stating all your contact details and reason for being outside in case you’re checked by police. If you’re found to be lying about why you’re outside, you can be fined €206 or given three months in jail. So far, they’ve fined 7,000 people.

The Government-issued form to go out

The first couple of days were the most difficult, trying to fill up the time and coming to terms with not leaving the apartment. It’s scary how quickly you can lose yourself when you’re essentially locked in. One the one hand, it removes the stress of having to go out. On the other, it kills your motivation to do anything at all. When you don’t have to go out, do you even need to get dressed? That was me for the first two days. On the third day, my husband and I made a plan.

Now, fully equipped with a schedule, meal plan and school lessons, there’s more than enough to do. So a day in the life under lockdown looks like this: breakfast – homework – physiotherapy for my son – lunch – rest – homework – play in the garden – dinner – put kid to sleep – clean – relax. I’ll be working remotely two days a week as well. All my colleagues across Europe have been told to work from home so it will be interesting to compare stories.

In this new way of life, sanitising takes up quite a bit of time. Every time we go out and come back in, it’s a matter of washing hands, washing clothes, and if you’ve been out long enough, taking yet another shower, spraying grocery bags and wiping all the mail.

As for groceries, we’re lucky that no one is panic buying here. There’s more than enough in all the supermarkets. At the start of the lockdown, we’d do a quick grocery shop every other day. Today, we’ve agreed to do it just once a week. The exposure is not worth the risk.

No panic buying, shelves still full

We’ve also taken a conscious decision to check the news and social media updates just once a day now. The relentless coverage is creating paranoia when we need to be calm. Even if some of the news is good, like the 6 pm ‘balcony parties,’ there’s always an underlying concern that we’ve unwittingly come into contact with an infected person. My son is epileptic so that’s a source of constant worry.

But it’s not all bad.

I am very happy to have my husband and son all to myself. My pizza base is now officially perfected. I’ve been teaching my son valuable life skills. We’re making the most of family time: playing, studying and cooking together.

Empty but beautiful Venice

As for the city, Venice has returned to its stunning best, emptied of the hundreds of thousands of tourists. This is the most surreal of all: walking for 15, 20 minutes and not seeing one person. Businesses are suffering, but the water is clear and green, there are no hordes of people to push through and no litter in the canals. And it feels like I have it all to myself.

Andrà tutto bene as the Italians say. It will be okay. Until next time…

Watch video below of Bonnie going to the grocery:


Watch video:


See parts 2, 3 & 4 below:

Diary of a Covid-19 Lockdown – A Trini in Italy: Week 2


Part 3: Diary of a Covid-19 Lockdown – No Space for the Dead

The Good, Bad, Ugly – Part 4 in A Diary of a Covid-19 Lockdown


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