The north of Italy was the first part of Europe to be hit hard by COVID-19. Based on seemingly stable data, the Italian government allows the opening of small shops again after six weeks of national lockdown. MSc student Davide Bottacini is pleased that Italy is cautious: ‘Since we have no view of the finish line, taking it slow is the only way we can fight this virus.’
‘The start of the Corona virus pandemic in Italy was a bit messy. The government kept changing the regulations every two days, which made it difficult for people to keep track of everything. Moreover, many people who had once gone north for work went back to their home towns in the south. Trains and train stations were all very crowded. Regions like Sicily tried to close their borders to prevent the virus from entering, but people were already arriving, which caused some panic. The government feared a big peak in COVID-19 infections in the south, but fortunately that did not happen.
Even with this initial chaos, I think the Italian government has been doing the best they can. It is easy to criticize them and say how they should have done it, but no one knew then what to expect. At the moment, the strict regulations have achieved a certain balance in hospitals. The care homes for the elderly, on the other hand, remain a big problem because many people die unaware of their infection. I am lucky that my two grandmothers can take care of themselves. Yet I also feel that I must stay in touch with them, because they miss company the most.
It will probably take a while before I go back to Italy again. In the meantime, I hope Italy finds a way to get cheap reliable tests for everyone because it is impossible to keep everything closed until we have a vaccine. It is also important to find a balance between health, safety and the economy, as Italy is already struggling economically. Eurobonds may be an option, but I do understand that countries disagree on this as each country experiences the virus differently.’