Italy Residents Face Mixed Emotions as Phase Two of Lockdown Lift Begins

Tags: Currents Coronavirus, Crux, Health, Health Care, Media, Rome, World News

By Melissa Butz

After 55 days of lockdown, Italy’s long-awaited “phase two” of reopening has begun, marked by obligatory masks, open parks, restaurant take-out and of course, social distancing.

Masks and gloves are Italy’s “new normal” as it enters into phase two, allowing four million people to return to work.

Public transportation has changed, as the metro has certain areas blocked off and buses are allowed only half the normal number of riders.

Restaurants are now open for take-out service for the first time in two months.

Italians, deprived of their morning ritual for so long, drink their morning espresso in the street.

While happy to serve, restaurant owners say they feel abandoned.

“I’m angry, upset and demoralized,” one told Currents News. “We weren’t told how to sanitize, what to do, what products to use, both for us and our clients. We don’t know anything. We have been left in the dark.

Athletes, on the other hand, are overjoyed as parks have reopened. Young and old alike now pass alongside those who cut the overgrown grass 

“It’s a sense of freedom!” explained one park-goer. 

But freedom doesn’t mean tranquility in the face of the coronavirus, or agreement with this new phase.

“I’m honestly more worried than I was before the lockdown,” one Rome resident admitted. “I hope it will be better.” 

“With all these people out, maybe we haven’t understood it’s like phase one, but with a few differences,” said another. 

During the lockdown, tourism dropped 68 percent in Europe and 96 percent in Italy. 

It’s estimated that from July to September 2020, no travel bans will cost 25 million tourists, making Italy’s financial situation even tighter.

It should get slightly better as shopping, museums and exhibits reopen May 18 and restaurants and hair salons on June 1. 

While it’s not how Italy was before the lockdown, it’s a slow and steady step in the right direction.