Our ‘gelato guy’, Signor Carlo, at his shop Alaska Gelateria pre-pandemic. He is obsessed with all things Jamaica, so needless to say, he was a little disappointed when I told him I was from Trinidad! Still gave him my favourite Black Stalin CD though 😊. He makes the most amazing and unusual flavours of gelato: Chai tea, turmeric, ginger, arugula…we still don’t know what’s going to happen to the gelateria.
Part 10 Diary of a Covid-19 Lockdown: Finally Outside, but Panic Attack
As of March 9, 2020, Italy has been put on near-total lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Bonnie Khan – a Trinidadian living in Venice, Italy – is recording her life during the lockdown.
Monday April 20, developments
- Total number of people infected: 181, 228
- Fatalities: 24,114
- Recovered: 48,877
- The infection rate has dropped drastically in the last two weeks to 1.7%. Italy hit the peak just after the Easter break. All 20 regions are expected to achieve a 0% infection rate by June 28.
- Veneto began Phase Two – ‘Soft lockdown’ – on April 14. This involves being allowed to exercise for an hour outside, within 200 metres of your home; gloves and masks worn outside; laundromats, bookshops, stationery shops and children’s clothes shops opening with social distancing measures; anyone with symptoms to continue to self-isolate. The Veneto Governor is also allowing immediate family members to ‘gather’ in their own gardens to celebrate two upcoming holidays on April 25 and May 1.
- All other regions in Italy are in complete lockdown until May 3.
- Phase Two is still being defined with little being revealed at this point. It is expected to last six to eight months and include: increased testing, tracking infections with an app, social distancing, quarantining of infected people in ‘Quarantine Hotels’ and schools possibly opening in September. Italians are being told not to expect beaches, restaurants or parks to be opened for the next few months.
- Government is planning on doing psychological tests on a sample of the population to understand how long they can stay in lockdown.
- An anti-bullying app has been extended for people experiencing violence in their homes during lockdown.
- Government has pledged a €400 billion package to stimulate and protect the economy, including protecting core industries e.g. infrastructure, from being bought out by international interests.
- Government is at odds with each other over reopening of Italy – it is facing the worst economic crisis since WWII. There’s been a surge in support for extreme right-wing political parties.
- Government is expecting a second wave of Covid-19 in Autumn.
Today is the first time I’ve been out in public since March 18. (Video)
My jeans do not fit.
I nearly had a panic attack in the middle of a completely empty square.
I forgot the PIN number for my bank card to pay for my groceries.
I couldn’t breathe in that stupid-but-necessary mask we have to wear.
My gloves were too big and snagged on everything.
It was not fun.
For the first time since the crisis began in February, the number of infected people were fewer than the day before. It’s good to see the numbers plummet, but the threat is still there. Last week, my brother-in-law’s father had a temperature and a cough. He’d only ever been to the supermarket two minutes from their apartment. That whole side of the family had to self-isolate. It was worrying for us too as my husband had seen his sister a few times in the past week. So far, thankfully, he is stable at home without fever.
Walking outside today, I realised how much the city has changed and what it might be like in Phase Two. I’m not sure I’m ready for it.
It’s great that the environment has gotten a much-needed break from humanity. What’s missing is the people. Not the tourists, but local kids playing in the squares, Venetians enjoying Aperitivo in the Spring sunshine (which really is the best time of year here 😊), daily trips to our ‘gelato guy’, and just the general liveliness of a city coming back to life in the sun.
Venice is a small community for the people who actually live here. It’s not unusual to greet someone you don’t know when you walk past. Today, I tried but failed to make eye contact with anyone. It feels like everyone is just getting the necessary and rushing home. Something about that efficiency-driven-by-fear is suffocating.
It’s also this stupid uncertainty.
The fallout of Covid-19 is so wide – from the future of the EU, the impending recession, travel, working, even whether we’ll be able to visit Trinidad this year – it is incomprehensible.
My new aim is to find a way to live with this paranoia without the copious consumption of all things flour and prepare for what’s next.
To be honest, I must. If I don’t, my poor jeans will simply not survive it.
Andrà tutto bene, it will all be okay. Till next time.
See parts 1 to 9 below: