Sunday, July 26 – State of Emergency Extended to End of Year

By Alessia Martino TURIN, ITALY

It’s the middle of the summer now, and as cases, pop-up here and there, the situation in Italy is still stable. However, especially in fear of a second wave when the cold weather hits again, the State of Emergency has been extended until the end of the year. This has mostly been done to be able to act and implement measures faster, although many think this has underlying purposes rather than just being health-related. There are many people who don’t believe in the severity of the situation or believe the virus is gone, although it is still active. However, measures as masks in enclosed spaces are respected regardless. High fines are in place to punish transgressions: for example, a non-masked customer will be fined 400 Euros and the shop even more plus some days of forced closure. Nobody wants to have to deal with that. I personally think the forced closure might be a bit too much, but probably does its job (as a deterrent).

Life continues in the new normal. Summer camps are running with new rules. Every morning parents have declared whether their children have no symptoms and temperatures are taken. Kids are divided into small groups with their own teachers to minimize contact. Teachers and kids 6+ wear masks when safe distance cannot be guaranteed. Everyone brings their lunch, and it cannot be shared. Lots of cleaning and staying outdoors are encouraged. Clubs are open, which is a questionable (but economical) decision. Sports are played with closed doors. Cinemas and theatres are still closed, although open cinema and drive-ins are allowed.

I have been to an improvised drive-in cinema, invited by my sister. We ended up in the parking lot of a gas station where they set up a screen and speakers. The audio was great, visual a bit less as a bigger car was slightly covering the lower end of the screen. It was a really enjoyable experience as the car was more of a private place and we could move as we wanted. We brought food to eat, but also ordered some from their bar. We could also talk without disturbing anyone. Although their organization wasn’t perfect and prices may be a bit high, the idea was good, and hopefully, more places will catch on. It would be great to have a big parking lot or park and a big high screen. I have also been to a local open-air screening. Open-air cinema is a tradition in the summer, this one they just started to sell tickets earlier, people have masks, and there are empty seats for distance.

I have also been to the mountain farmers’ markets. When hiking in the mountains, it’s easier to stay away from people, so masks aren’t needed when our farmers’ markets are highly regulated with someone to control the situation. Vendors have masks on, and customers are required or advised to wear one depending on the town; however, being outside helps. Tables often dividers into two categories anyway, and few people stay for long. Stalls are also placed far from each other to minimize crowds.
I am pleased with my country’s current measures, and I am happy to see they are thinking ahead for schools and about possible imported cases. Non- EU inbound travelers have a 14 days quarantine period to follow, while people that have been in high-risk countries (there is blacklist) are not allowed entrance regardless of citizenship. I hope they implement the discussed fast testing in airports soon, as it would make things easier.