Sardinia – an Italian island on lockdown
Today (Thursday) is the third day of the national lockdown here in Italy due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus, and things have taken an even more serious turn. Last night all TV channels were interrupted in order for the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, to again address the population.
During his previous address on Monday evening, he declared that the majority of places where people gather, including but not limited to schools, gyms, swimming pools, museums, night clubs, and social clubs, would be forced to close until April 3rd. He also declared that bars and restaurants would observe limited opening times from 6am to 6pm in order to facilitate those continuing to work.
As of last night, Mr. Conte expanded the restrictions to close all commercial activities across Italy. This means that every non-essential workplace must be closed by law until further notice. The only places that can stay open from this morning are pharmacies, supermarkets and banks.
Factories manufacturing medical equipment, or materials necessary for hospitals, will be granted extra funds, and all other factories will remain open as long as they can demonstrate that they are taking the necessary health precautions for their workforce to avoid possible transmission of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
As of today, there are 38 confirmed cases of the virus on the island of Sardinia. Coupled with yesterdays announcement by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the spread of the virus is now being declared a pandemic, and the Italian government’s new national restrictions, there is definitely a sense of paranoia striking Sardinia.
We are being told not to leave the house unless absolutely necessary, not only to avoid catching the virus ourselves, but to avoid potentially spreading it in the community to the elderly, and to others with compromised immune systems. We are also told that for certain people, catching the virus could be a death sentence.
On the news, medical professionals are begging people to follow the restrictions and precautions as hospitals, particularly in the north of the country, are being stretched to breaking point. In comparison to the richer northern Italian regions, Sardinia lags slightly behind on the quality of healthcare that they are able to provide, and the fear is that if the virus takes a hold here, the hospitals will be overwhelmed and won’t be able to keep up.
Today, our town of Decimomannu has essentially become a ghost town. The only people seen on our usually busy main street are Police officers with face masks, and a few stragglers carrying grocery shopping. Churches are closed for mass, weddings, funerals, and christenings, and the main square in the centre of the town is deserted. Measures are being stepped up by the Police across Sardinia to restrict unnecessary movement – reports are already emerging of people being charged and fined for travelling without a valid reason.
A small amount of people are still attempting to flaunt the restrictions, but the majority of people here are taking the national lockdown seriously, and are being as flexible as possible for the sake of the community as a whole.
The hashtag #DistantiMaUniti is gaining more momentum online – Distant but united. As Italian Prime Minister Conte said last night “We all need to be responsible … let’s keep our distance today, so we can embrace each other again tomorrow.”
Remember, panicking won’t help anyone – stay calm, avoid crowded places, cover sneezes and coughs, wash your hands regularly, and be safe. The sooner we take this pandemic seriously, the faster it will pass.