Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree closing down all non-essential production across the country. Factories involved were given three days to prepare and close. Supermarkets, pharmacies, food stores, banks, post offices and transport services were not affected by the new measures. While most shops had already been closed, many factories had continued to operate. The number of open public offices were also drastically reduced, with the exception of services related to health, defense, social security and distance education. The decree includes a list of 80 sectors that will remain open, including professional services by attorneys, accountants, engineers and architects, call centers, newsstands, the press and media, tobacconists, as well as all services related to the production and supply of food, medicine and transport of essential goods. The Prime Minister stated that “Everyone’s efforts are needed and the survival of the social and economic fabric of our country is at stake.” The next few weeks will be “very challenging and crucial,” he continued. People have been banned from leaving their homes and can only walk the dog or jog around the block, as well as travelling for health, food and other essential purposes.
A Symbol of Hope
An 87-year-old woman from northern Italy has become a symbol of hope and the fierce fight against the coronavirus when pictures of her went viral, as she pumped her fist in the air after learning from doctors that she has recovered from the illness and can go home!
The Venice Canals
Italy’s lockdown is not only keeping people safer, but it is giving nature outdoors a chance to recharge. In Venice, the canals are cleaner than anyone has ever seen. The phenomenon is due to the vastly reduced traffic on the canals which has allowed the sediment to stay at the bottom. The air quality of the city has also improved with fewer water taxis and boats plying the waterways. Fish can now be seen swimming in the canals, while swans and other water fowl have returned, enjoying the respite from cargo boats, cruise ships and tourist gondolas.
8,000 Apply to Medical Task Force
In a remarkable show of selflessness and solidarity, 7,923 medical personnel responded to a national appeal launched by Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia to form a voluntary 300 member coronavirus task force. Members of the task force, which will remain operative until the end of the emergency, will be dispatched to the areas in the country hardest hit by the pandemic. They will receive lodging and a daily stipend from the country’s civil protection service for each day they work.
FCA to Make Masks
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has announced its intent to make over one million face masks per month for the coronavirus emergency by converting one of its factories. The giant company’s objective is to start the production shortly and reach production of over a million masks a month which will be given to first responders and health operators.
As the enforcement in Italy becomes even stricter as a means of gaining control over the virus, a record 9,600 people were cited during just one day in the country for breaking the lockdown rules. This included a couple who were cited for “canoodling” in a car on the outskirts of Milan. They had breached the lockdown which bans two people being in the front or back of a vehicle together. Near Verona, a father and son were cited for breaking the rules after going for a swim in a river. “He wanted to go swimming and I said let’s go,” said the 48-year-old man, after being ordered out of the water with his 17-year-old son. On many days, as many as 200,000 people are checked, with less than five percent generally found to be out and about without a good reason.
U2 front man and social activist, Bono has released a new song that he says was inspired by Italians’ resilience and humor in continuing to sing amid the coronavirus emergency. “For the Italians who inspired it… for anyone in a tight spot and still singing; for the doctors, nurses, health care workers on the front lines, it’s you we’re singing to,” said Bono. The song is titled “Let Your Love Be Known.” Italians continue to sing the national anthem and patriotic songs from their balconies and rooftops to cheer up the nation and inspire the world amid the health crisis.