By Melissa Butz
With 60 million Italians under quarantine, the usually busy time of Lent is being lived in a different way at St. Peter’s.
Businesses surrounding the Vatican are already feeling the negative effects of the lock-down.
One street leading up to St. Peter’s Square is normally full of pilgrims, but now few remain with the Vatican closed until April 3.
“It’s a very dramatic moment for all businesses and obviously for tourism. We’re all realizing now how fundamental tourism is for our economy,” explained Emmanual, whose store sells religious items. As of two of the lock-down, they had sold nothing.
“We’re all losing money, but we’re open in hopes that a few people pass by,” he said.
Sen, another store owner, also hoped for pilgrims at his tourist stand right in front of St. Peter. Over the past 20 years, he has grown to have 63 of them all around Rome. He said this is the first time, he will close.
“Today I see there are no people. Tomorrow, I’m not coming here. For which people are we working? We are working with the tourists,” he explained.
Many tourists in the country are looking to leave as soon as possible, but flights are also being canceled.
Grocery stores, pharmacies and some restaurants are remaining open, allowing a few people in at a time.
Workers at selected locations have masks and gloves, but the vacancy remains, as most Italians are following the rules and remaining inside.
Each year, the Vatican attracts millions of tourists especially during the time leading up to Easter, which this year is April 12.
While the country-wide lock-down is being enforced until April 3, many are concerned it will be extended to this religious holiday, if coronavirus numbers do not go down.