The handwritten yellow sign on the pharmacy’s window – “masks and hand gel out of stock” – has been up for weeks. But now there are many more signs, on shop doors, telling customers that only a few people can enter at a time, and that they must remain a metre apart. Many shops are shuttered entirely.
“It’s just like Ferragosto!” the only other person in my local square this morning shouted to no one. He was referring to the annual 15 August public holiday that is famous for its exoduses from the cities. Around then, those who can head to the beach or the mountains. “There is no one here, it’s crazy,” the man continued.
The comparison with a holiday is striking, because it’s hard to have fun amidst an epidemic. But it’s also apt because while a lot of things are shut in mid-August, cities do not completely close down. And that’s what life is actually like on the ground in Turin, amidst what is now an official national lockdown.
To read the international news, you’d think that everything in Italy is closed, and everyone is sick or scared. But the reality is more confusing.
Turin, where I live, was one of the only parts of the Piedmont region that was spared quarantine until yesterday. We’re about 200 kilometres west of Codogno, the small Lombardy town that was the epicentre of coronavirus in Italy. I’m from Canada, where this is a short distance. Here it’s not: the danger seemed far away,
While schools have been shut in Turin for weeks, and coronavirus has dominated the news, we remained outside the ‘red zones’. Then, as more people were tested, we became almost entirely encircled by quarantined provinces. On Monday, red zones disappeared as the entire country went into ‘lockdown’ as of yesterday.Print