Dear all,

It’s not difficult to be in quarantine in Italy these days. Pretty much everybody is. In my last post I told you that being in quarantine might be scary and nerve wracking. For me that’s not entirely the case. When we heard the news that we were in one of the 14 provinces that was already going into quarantine on Monday the 9th of March 2020 I got annoyed, more than I got scared – although I’ve had my moments, but I was very skillfully comforted. I thought it was perhaps an overreaction of the government. The following day, the rest of the country joined the quarantine and I’ve completely changed my mind about these new measures.

I think a lot of people felt indignant after they first heard about the quarantine. You’re not sick, but you’re still basically locked up. In all honesty, you can leave your apartment or house when you need to do shopping (only on week days) or when you need to go to work. I first thought I was allowed to go outside for a walk as well, but this is not really the case (only at times when you can really easily stay far away from people), and it made me a little bit upset, because it meant (since my job has been cancelled) that I would be stuck inside for more than three weeks, except for the occasional grocery haul.

But in the end, who cares if you have to stay inside for a couple of weeks. So be it. I don’t believe that currently there is a government that, for no reason at all, would put a stop to the economy of their country. Apparently they thought it was very necessary and since they are advised by virologists and medical staff, they simply know more than I do. And actually, I kind of appreciate the fact that a government puts national health before national profit.

I am, as I mentioned before, not particularly scared. I don’t feel comfortable, but I’m not scared out of my wits. I don’t think it’s very likely that I’ll get the coronavirus or if I do, that I will be in a lot of trouble. I am worried about the parents and grandparents of this country and other countries in the world (especially the Netherlands of course) who are either of old age or are already sick, because they are more likely to suffer and in the end die. This does not justify panic, but it does justify appropriate behaviour and acceptance of measures that have been taken. Medical staff are having a hard time at the moment and since it has become very clear to me that our medical staff and our medical researchers are the true heroes of this event, we have to help them in whichever way we can, for example by trying to contain the virus. (I also hope we will not forget how heavily we have been relying on them for some time now and that they will be rewarded accordingly).

What I would really hate is for Italy to recover from this and then be flooded by possibly infected tourists from neighbouring European countries. Tourists who might not have taken government’s warnings and advice as seriously as we do now in Italy (I’m well aware that Italians have also not listened carefully for a long time, but look at where we are). So, I urge you not to panic (there’s no need for that), but just do as you’re being told. Don’t shake hands, keep a distance, don’t go to big events. Nobody cares that you might have already paid for a ticket and you’ve been looking forward to this concert for more than a year. It is all irrelevant. Don’t go shopping for items in a big shopping centre. I know consumerism is a big thing in most western countries, but now (actually always) is not the time to go outside and buy unnecessary new clothes or gadgets to make yourself feel better, even though you can hardly close your closet filled with shoes or make space for the newest tablet. Don’t go out for a drink or to a restaurant. Learn how to cook yourself and learn for once how to enjoy life without these luxuries. From now on, don’t go to work when you’re feeling a little bit under the weather. You’re not going to be praised for your determination and your work ethics. You’re a nuisance and you should stay home. This is not the moment to think about your own convenience and about your reputation as whatever. This is the moment to think about others who are unfortunately not as fit and as strong as you and about medical staff that are running on empty.

I still believe that we live in a world in which we take care of each other. Let’s do it now, for real.

From Italy with lots of love,

Merel