I Am Quarantined in Northern Italy. Here’s What It’s Like.

A first-person look inside the Covid-19 lockdown in Italy

This morning, I stopped by a coffee bar near my house. I’ve become friends with the barista, Stefano. As Stefano prepared my , he said he had some sad news. His father, who had been ill for some time, had died. The funeral was canceled because of the restrictions imposed on the region.

Stefano placed my coffee on the counter. Normally, in an Italian coffee shop, you stand at the bar and drink the tiny cup of espresso. I took a few sips as we continued talking. A guy with his phone to his ear, apparently a co-worker, stepped over and rapped sharply on the bar. I’d violated a rule. All customers, , are to sit at tables. This is part of the mandate that people are to maintain a one-meter distance from each other. Stefano said that if a policeman drove by and saw me drinking coffee at the counter, he could be fined several thousand euros. He also reported that city officials had been driving past with bullhorns, urging everybody to stay inside.

Yesterday, at the local supermarket, a man in a uniform…directed everyone to get a large shopping cart. He explained that the large carts help create greater distance between people.

As I stood to leave, he said, “The problem is in our minds. These restrictions are terrible.”

After coffee, I stopped by the doctor’s office to get a prescription. The doctor emerged wearing a large blue surgical mask. At the farmacia, the pharmacists were also wearing masks.

Around town, many businesses are closed. The macellerie (butcher shops) were open, as were all of the grocery stores. Restaurants have been ordered to close in the evenings. All events and gatherings, including weddings, funerals, and outdoor sporting events, are canceled. Dance studios, cinemas, gyms, galleries, all schools, libraries, and many other places where the  in close proximity are closed — and those who run these places are sitting idle.

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