Looking for the latest news about the Coronavirus Rome? What's the situation here? What's it like in Rome right now? Should you cancel your trip to Italy? Should/can you come to Rome Italy right now?
I've been getting these questions about Coronavirus Rome via email and across all my social media channels, so I wanted to create a place to answer them:
The lockdown affects the entire country.
Here in Rome, if you were to walk around, you'd find very empty streets and piazzas.
However, life is carrying on. People are walking their dogs, going to the grocery and pharmacy, and doing basic things to live life as best we can under the circumstances. But we are also staying inside as much as possible.
I have not come across a shortage of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, soap, or really any basic necessities.
Everyone I know in Rome is expressing a resilience and determination not to let this knock us down.
It's very difficult because I and so many people I know work directly in tourism, and as you can imagine, this has had a devastating effect on us. It also has ripple effects throughout the Italian economy.
Being on lockdown does NOT mean we are under marshal law.
We are not quarantined to the point of not being able to leave our houses at all.
According to the latest Italian decree, here are the main restrictions (I am translating from the official website of the Italian Ministry of Health):
It's important to understand that these measures are in place to help slow the spread of the virus.
While Italy has an excellent healthcare system, it also has a limit on the number of facilities, including hospital beds and medical staff to assist people.
And while the virus may be innocuous in many people, it can also cause serious illness and complications in many others. Those people need to have access to adequate treatment.
So this lockdown is the best chance we have to slow the spread of the virus and keeping the number of new cases to a minimum while those in need are being treated.
We feel safe going around Rome. We've been grocery shopping and taking very short walks in our neighborhood, as allowed by law. We are keeping more than the 1-meter (3-feet) distance from others, as decreed.
Just as this was unfolding, we had friends visiting from the US who had bravely decided not to cancel their plans before the entire country went on lockdown. While none of us felt in danger from each other, we sent our friends back home as soon as the entire country was declared in the red zone.
My husband and I personally feel safe. We are following the rules and common sense health and hygiene practices as we always have done.
As you can see from the above rules, you may walk around Rome "as needed."
If you have to walk your dog, go buy groceries or medication, go to work, take your kids outside to let them play and get fresh air, or otherwise have something to do outdoors, including going for a walk or run, you may. On the other hand, the authorities are urging us all to stay inside as much as possible. So this means not just going out every single day for groceries or to stretch our legs. Most days, going outside for us means heading to our building's roof terrace to hang laundry.
We must all follow the rules whether outside or inside, and keep at least 1 meter (about 3 feet) distance between ourselves and others.
Just in the first 10 days of March, the situation changed dramatically.
At the beginning of March, I would have told you that it was ok to be here in Rome, because everything was open. Except for the catacombs.
On March 8 the government decreed that all museums and archeological sites should be closed until April 3 (at least).
Two days later, the government decreed that the entire country of Italy will be a "red zone".
This was previously only applied to regions in the north of Italy that were hardest hit.
And as of March 11, cafes, pubs, restaurants, and shops must close.
The following are completely closed until (at least) April 3:
Serie A soccer games have been suspended or postponed.
Public masses are not allowed but you can visit churches as long as you keep 1 meter distance between yourself and others. Religious ceremonies, including funerals and weddings had to be either cancelled or postponed.
Basically anything outdoors, such as parks, piazzas, and fountains are still open and not cordoned off.
Grocery stores and whole food vendors such as fruit sellers and butchers remain open.
While cafes and restaurants are closed, home delivery is allowed, so you will be able to order food in from any restaurant offering this.
Pharmacies, news stands, and tabacco shops are open.
There have been a few confirmed cases of the Coronavirus Rome and in Lazio region. So far almost all of them have recovered. You can follow this here:
Right now, there is no quarantine IN Rome per se, other than the urging of the government to limit time spent out of doors to only necessary activities.
Will you face a quarantine when you leave Rome? This is something you will need to find out from your country's embassy and place of work.
Whether you are in Rome or anywhere else, you can take the precautions suggested by the Italian Health ministry and the World Health Organization. The most important of these are:
Otherwise, there is not much you CAN do. Being a tourist right now in Rome is not recommended, so if you find yourself here as a tourist, you will need to either stay inside, or try to get back home.
You can also check the website of your country's embassy for up-to-date information and notifications.
If you have a trip planned to visit Italy anytime in the near future or even in the summer or fall, you may be wondering if you should cancel your trip.
Since the situation is developing, it's hard to know how it will effect travel plans in the near term. Nobody can know when this will all "blow over."
In part, it will be up to you and your family to decide what is right for you. In part, it may be out of your hands, as companies and governments place restrictions where they feel it's important to do so.
What I can tell you is that we in Italy all hope you will come to Italy as soon as you can.
The economy, in particular the tourism-based economy, has been crushed because of this situation. We need you now more than ever before.
The Italian economy has been devastated by this situation. Besides people working in tourism, this grinding to a halt of the Italian economy has trickled down to many people across socio-economic statuses, sectors, and geographic regions.
If you want to help, here are some options:
Coronaviruses have been around a very long time.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)."
The most recently identified virus is called Novel Coronavirus, which basically means "new Coronavirus." Covid-19 is the disease caused by the Novel Coronavirus.
Covid-19 is something like a regular flu virus, except it's likelier to be deadlier (but we don't know), and it seems to be more contagious (although we don't know), and we do not yet have a vaccine for it.
Symptoms of the Coronavirus Covid-19 show up 2-14 days after exposure. They include:
Do not panic! These symptoms can also indicate any number of other illnesses including the cold, flu, and other viral infections.
What can you do to protect yourself? The following is true anywhere in the world, not just in Rome Italy.
So far, we don't have a vaccine to prevent Covid-19. Many common-sense personal hygiene practices will go a long way towards preventing your exposure to the virus.
When we first learned of the Coronavirus, Italy was at the forefront. It was in Rome that scientists first isolated and identified the virus. And Italy began immediately to test people for it. As a result, they quickly found many people infected.
The World Health Organization has praised Italy's reaction, and actions taken by the Italian Ministry of health:
"Dr Dina Pfeifer, in charge of clinical management and team lead, highlighted Italy’s commitment, since the beginning, to tackle to the outbreak. “We appreciate the difficulties that the current situation poses and acknowledge the efforts of the Ministry of Health as well as other national and regional authorities to address it. This is indeed a whole-of-government collaboration, and we are grateful for the transparent information-sharing that is critical for us to better understand this outbreak and support response efforts,” she said."
So, thanks to Italy's aggressive testing, it was easier to get a handle on the number of people infected, and to begin addressing the situation.
It may be that Italy does not have proportionately more people with Coronavirus. It may turn out that they simply counted more people with it right from the beginning. But we don't know yet.
As of March 8, 2020, most of the cases of Coronavirus in Italy were in the north. (They still are.)
In fact, that region was originally the only part of Italy considered a "red zone". Now, the entire country is in the red zone.