Italy Emerges From Lockdown. Slowly.

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S1: In Milan, Italy, grippy, Vitara is coming out of a kind of Corona virus induced hibernation.

S2: Yeah, yeah. We are actually out from the lockdown right now.

S1: Until last week, Gretta. Her husband, their two kids and their dog have been under one of the strictest stay at home orders in the world. The whole region has. And then last Monday, Gretta stepped outside her gate for just the third time since February. Does Italy opening up like this? Does it feel like a relief?

S2: Yeah. Okay. In a certain way, it is a relief. It’s beautiful to walk outside. It’s beautiful to have back some of our freedom. I was walking on the street by myself and I was loving. It was not a single the thing that I forgot about. I called this faith. I gave my first kiss. I think there’s others for it. I dreamt of leaving that house. There’s others, too. There’s this beautiful tree.

S3: Greg is getting wistful in this way because she can see the city around her changing. It’s no longer the place she grew up, but it’s not the insular world she’s inhabited for the past couple of months either.

S2: There’s a new feeling that you found that is that also you can have nostalgia, all the lock to in a certain way. What do you miss? I miss the quiet. They come. Now I’m back to the sounds like traffic. The cars are back on the streets and I hear beeping. I hear people chatting like a fool. A week ago, the morning I woke up and drank my coffee and went on my backyard and nobody was out. And that was nice. That was something that we didn’t have before.

S1: Greed has gone through a metamorphosis, too. When she first went into isolation, she was still wearing her warm woolen sweaters. And when she walked outside last week, she was down to just a T-shirt. It felt freeing.

S2: But in the same time, it’s Carrie to you because, you know, the virus is still here. So my friend wrote me and said she went out to and she had a panic attack because she doesn’t know why she felt overwhelmed and she doesn’t feel safe anymore. And. I have the feeling, too, that sometimes I forget what we are going through. And then bang some feels like you, can you hear a sound of a side of the ambulance? They’re like, oh, wait, wait. It’s still very dangerous to be out. It’s it’s still like we can get sick again.

S3: Today on the show, the last time I spoke to Gretta. She offered a warning about how bad the Corona virus could be at the time Italy led the world in Corona virus deaths. Now the U.S. does. So I called going to back to talk about what getting back to normal really means. I’m Mary Harris. You’re listening to what next? Stick with us.

S1: How many days were you in lockdown in your house?

S2: I was like lock, lock down 58 days. 58. Yeah. Almost two months. Like almost 60 days. But my kids stopped going to school the 21st of February. And so I will say the real lockdown for me started the eighth of March, but we started locking down from the 21st of February. Like every day was like saying goodbye to half of your Freebo.

S1: Italy’s lockdown orders were much more extreme than what we’ve seen here. Just leaving the house required you to print out a little permission slip and carry it with you. You’d write that you were safe on your way to the grocery store. That way, if the police stopped you. You had an excuse without one, you might get a ticket.

S2: At the beginning, people could run. That was another big issue. The runners and the people called the run. Then people call neuron anymore. And we all were just in the house. And the only essential worker could go out. And we all that where must mess everywhere outside and in the streets and in every place. And they should. I have to say that now, if you don’t wear a mask, they look at you like you are a criminal.

S1: So in Italy, they they called this original lockdown phase one. And now now you’re in phase two, which is this kind of opening up.

S2: Yeah, it’s a phase two, but it’s fun. And it goes on Twitter. They call it phase one, point five.

S1: So why one point five? Because is it because so many things are still shut down?

S2: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Because restaurants are closed. Bars are closed. And you can do like pickup, but you cannot go in a restaurant or in a bar and address are closed. Different stores are closed.

S1: So I saw a photo of people in an Italian restaurant with this plexiglass shields between them and they had masks. It seemed not Italian to me.

S2: Yeah, that’s another thing. We’re very patchy, affectionate population and we like them. We talk really close to each other. That’s another thing. Very funny thing. We don’t rate naturally. We do not keep the distance, the distance. So that’s another. We have to learn how to keep the distance.

S1: Yeah. What was that like? I mean, the first day that restrictions were lifted was last Monday. I just wonder, like, how did you have to catch yourself, like getting too close to people or or like, oh, I want to hug this person, but I can’t.

S2: Yeah. Like it was very hard when my parents when my parents was very hard. Also my my mom, I feel like she doesn’t really behave well. She’s worse than my children. For example, my younger two, the child, she’s two. And as soon as she says my mom, she ran like she she ran away from us and went to hug my mom. And my mom took her and Keith therms.

S4: I know. Hunky, sir. What are you doing?

S2: Well, I think I was I OK, it’s fine. Like we can we are OK with that kind of risk. They say that home as much as we did. So I feel like we are safer now than we will be in two weeks. That’s what I feel.

S1: Huh. So when when the restrictions were lifted, were you like at the door at 6:00 in the morning wanting to get out or was it different? Like what was it like that day when you woke up?

S2: Yeah, it was funny then the day before, like the night before, we felt a strange excitement and fear. I always tell my mom to be careful because I’m scared for my parents and they feel like they feel safe and it’s like, oh, we’re not that safe. So like yesterday. Three hundred and eighty people died neoteny, which they keep people in front with the numbers of. A few weeks ago we thought a thousand that in a day. So you like Tranmere? It it’s not bad. But once they went to work, I knew there was a really bad earthquake in Italy and 300 people died. And I was there working like I was reporting about the earthquake and they so three, 300 people that are in the same place. And it’s a huge number.

S1: So it’s like you feel like in some ways we’re numbed by the enormity of what just happened.

S2: Yeah. Yeah. Like saying that 300 or 200. It’s. It’s good. It’s good. No, it even if it’s confronted to a thousand but 300, it’s a huge number. We’re not so in good shape. I see. And if you’d like reopen because it was emotional and the political need. But all the scientists said it’s still a little bit too early.

S1: I’m kind of curious about your kids. I mean, when we spoke before, I remember you saying the last time you had gone out was to take them to the playground because you thought it’s outside. It’s got to be kind of safe. And then you got there and you thought, bad call. What was it like to take them out on Monday?

S2: They were so excited, like the my my younger daughter. She died. She didn’t want to go back home. And she cried and she cried and she cried. No home. No home. I want to stay out. And that I have it’s time to go eat that. She really wanted to see to see something different. She was so excited. She kept running all around. She was. And she they she was exhausted and she fell asleep like really early. That was the first time she’d left early in the last two ones. And the sad thing was that my daughter shared the birthday, the first of me so few days ago. And she was so sad because she can. She did. She couldn’t have any party and she can’t have any party. She acted okay or during the day. And then she said, I have to be honest. Say what? This party sucks.

S4: I’m doing that.

S2: I can understand that. And she said, I tried to be happy and act like it was fun to not do anything special, but it was so sad. And they said yes. And so she said the first the fourth of May when the lockdown ended. She said, oh, we are going to have the party 9:00. It was hard to say again, no, we still have to wait. But as soon as we will be able to go a party, we’ll do a party again.

S1: So are you taking them out, like, every day just to sort of get them back into the fresh air?

S2: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now, we going out every day just for a walk. We are not doing anything special because we cannot do anything special. But we go for a walk. We sometimes go to my parents. So we’re not we do not go in, in their house, but we just best and say hi. So that’s the big things here in the States.

S1: There’s so much anger that’s being reported on anger from people who are feeling anxious about the economy and getting back to work. Are you seeing that in Italy, too?

S2: I mean, not, as I say in America, like what we are seeing in America. It’s very scary. As I told you before, my husband is from Michigan. So we really were shocked by the images of people protesting in front of the building in Lansing, where the capital of Michigan and protesting with their guns and screaming crazy things. And no, there’s not that kind of things here. There’s some anger. There’s some anger, because lots of activities are still closed. Lots of business are still closed. And they do protests sometimes. Like I saw yesterday or two days ago, there was a protest in Milan. All business owners that we’re asking to reopen, bars and restaurants.

S1: How did that protest look different from what you saw in Lansing? Oh, my God.

S2: Like, the protests were so cool. Like they brought their chair in a big square. They kept the distances. Think of the meter and a half of distance between the chairs they set and they protested like that. So they were all sit in their chairs, not like because you cannot have a gathering of people. So they did. They respected the distances and they tried to like protest protests and respect the at the same time, there is horrible things going on, but nothing like the anger. So in America and those I here and they keep seeing crazy, we do this sometimes I’m like, I’m reading The Onion or it is real. Like it feels like that.

S1: I mean, I did say it’s too sometimes. Yeah.

S2: I feel like I feel like I read something about if he was in Huntington Beach, California or somewhere in California, it was like surfers saying, hey, I don’t care. I’m going to surf even if I can’t be. Why? Why, why are you doing that? We all have to respect some rules that we don’t like. I don’t like walking on the street and wearing my mask for an hour and a half. I can’t breathe. But there’s a doctor that is spending 12 hours theming. Life of your mother is 83 years old with a mass that is three times thicker than mine and he’s not saying anything. So what are you talking about? We’re all in the same terrible, horrible bull. People are dying. It’s like we have we have as a way to say this thing. It’s like you are pointing to the moon, but you’re watching your finger instead of the moon.

S1: Is that an Italian phrase? I feel like the American phrases. You’re missing the forest for the trees.

S2: Exactly. Yeah. So it seems important your finger, but there is the moon behind. I know you’re a business owner and you’re struggling. I understand that, and I know you have a kid that is in school. I understand that. It’s horrible. We’re still saving like.

S1: Gretta, thank you so much for joining me.

S2: Mary, thank you for talking to me again. Let’s talk again when the school will reopen.

S1: Gretta Privat Terra is a journalist based in Milan, Italy. Follow her on Twitter. She’s at Grétar Privitera. And that’s the show we’ve been asking all of you to give us a call and tell us how your life is changing during the pandemic. Michael from Stoneridge, New York, called to tell us how he’s making ends meet these days now that his regular work has dried up.

S5: Half of my income is normally derived from being a deejay who primarily plays at weddings from May to October most years. I started looking for other ways to make up that lost income. And interestingly enough, I just got hired yesterday for an online service which performs memorial services for folks who are enabled to have whole memorial services and funerals in person. I guess the symbolism of going from in person, celebrations of love in union to virtual celebrations of memorializing those who have passed away is just kind of an intense Megaforce of the time.

S6: If you’ve got a story about how your life is different during this pandemic, we want to hear from you. Give us a call. Two zero two eight eight two five eight eight. Or just tweet at me. I’m at Mary’s Desk. What Next? Is produced by Mary Wilson, Jason de Leon and Daniel Hewitt. I’m Mary Harris. We’ll be back tomorrow with more. What next?