People stand on a balcony adorned with an Italian flag during one of the many flash mobs taking place these days in Rome, Sunday, March 15, 2020. The nationwide lockdown to slow coronavirus is still early days for much of Italy, but Italians are already showing signs of solidarity with flash mob calls circulating on social media for people to ''gather'' on their balconies at certain hours, either to play music or to give each other a round of applause. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. Image Credit: AP

Livorno: It’s still week one of the #italylockdown and more stringent rules have been enacted. We are allowed to leave the house — only to go to the supermarket or pharmacy, to walk dogs or to go on runs (alone).

We are also allowed to go to work if we still have jobs or cannot work from home.

Italy is sacrificing its economy for the sake of the health of its citizens. It seems likely that every other country in the world is a week or two behind us — but nobody can believe it.

Just like we didn’t.

Only a few people are allowed in each shop at a time so lines are forming outside on the street — with everyone standing far apart, patiently waiting.

Police presence

If you are out you must maintain at least a one meter distance from others and carry a form justifying why you are outside — in case you are stopped by the police.

If you can’t justify why you are out, you may be fined. You are not allowed to meet any friends or family or to leave your local region. It’s all very surreal.

This quarantine is to prevent the spread of the virus, to protect the vulnerable, and to ease the strain on northern hospitals, not because every person or region or town in the country has a high number of cases.

These social distancing and quarantine measures are understood as necessary to prevent a bad situation from becoming worse and for the first time I see everyone setting aside politics or personal needs, coming together in the effort to make this really work.

We are going through something quite serious but also that we are doing it in solidarity. I see kindness and compassion in people’s eyes, not fear.


Supermarkets stocked

So far, the supermarkets remain stocked so there is no panic shopping or empty shelves.

When I meet other people in a parking lot or on a walk, we make eye contact, we smile, and we keep the distance between each other. The feeling is that we are going through something quite serious but also that we are doing it in solidarity. I see kindness and compassion in people’s eyes, not fear.

Across the country, people are organizing flash mobs from their windows in an effort to unite across the distance.

People light their smart phones on a balcony as part of nationwide flash mob to "light up Italy" and raise morale as Italians remain on lockdown due to a coronavirus outbreak, in Rome Image Credit: Reuters

Last night we played our instruments together on terraces all down the street. Today we came out again to applaud Italy’s tireless doctors for all their work. I am waving and smiling to neighbours

I have never met before but with whom I now share this experience and this understanding.

People sing and gesture next to an Italian flag during a flash mob "Una canzone per l'Italia" (A song for Italy) at Magliana district in Rome on March 15, 2020. Italy reacts with the solidarity of flash mobs circulating on social media to make people "gather" on balconies at certain hours, to play music or to get a round of applause. Italy on Sunday recorded 368 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, its highest one-day increase to date, taking the total to 1,809, the most outside China, official data showed. The number of infections has reached 24,747, a count released to the media by Italy's civil protection service said. The northern Lombardy region around Milan remained the European epicentre of the pandemic, officially reporting 1,218 deaths, or 67 percent of the Italian total. Image Credit: AFP

The prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, has said we have to distance ourselves today so we can embrace each other tomorrow.

I’m really impressed by how quickly people here have unified to deal with the spread of the virus and are respecting the rules and offering each other support and solidarity.

This sacrifice can save lives and people are taking that seriously. Together, we can get through this. And I don’t just mean Italy but the whole world.

Luca and I are safe at home in Livorno and using this time to work on other things both for for tour company Unlock Italy and our own artistic projects.

If we can’t do our jobs, we can at least create something new while looking forward to a hopefully better world on the other side of this.