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COVID-19

All of Italy is on lockdown. Here’s what life is like.

David Brancaccio Mar 10, 2020
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Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

All of Italy is on lockdown. Here’s what life is like.

David Brancaccio Mar 10, 2020
Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Sixty million people have been placed on COVID-19 lockdown in Italy. You can move around for work, and trucks and delivery vans have been permitted to go about their business. And if you can show a pressing need to get around — say, for health reasons — you can also get permission.

But what about for everyone else? What is life like on the ground? The BBC’s David Willey gave us an idea. He says he and his neighbors have been able to get what they need so far.

The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.

David Willey: I now live slightly outside Rome, in a small village about 30 miles from the center of Rome. So I’m used to village life. As far as I can see, life in our village is continuing as normal.

But I noticed, for example, I went out to the local cafe and was sitting down when suddenly the local policeman turned up and warned everybody that we weren’t sitting far enough apart from each other. This was according to a new decree, you’re supposed to keep at least one meter of space between you and the nearest person.

David Brancaccio: And you saw a reference to an incident, what, today in Sicily there was a funeral procession?

Willey: In the center of Sicily, there was a funeral procession being held this morning. The police intervened and tried to stop the funeral, and issued, I think, something like 48 warning notices. The authorities are doing their best to make Italians obey the law. But I think there’s still a large uncertainty about what exactly is allowed and what is not allowed. And I think that confusion will continue during the days to come.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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