Today a new phase begins, phase two of the pandemic coronavirus in Italy. Almost everywhere, retail stores, restaurants and other businesses are starting to reopen.
A phase two, however, which does not reduce the current risks. The pressure of the pandemic on businesses has been enormous, and the reopening is more the result of necessity than of tranquility. If we could afford to think only of containing the virus, the reopening of the activities should not even be part of the hypothesis.
That said, current photography says that many regions are at least out of an acute phase of the emergency. An attempt is underway to develop strategies that allow us to resume the less risky parts of our "old life". We need to find a way to slow down the virus that also allows us to maintain our mental and financial health.
I think the safest thing to do in phase two, if you can manage it, is still to stay at home, but I think we should also consider carefully reintroducing some non-essential activities, weighing the risks for ourselves and for others.
A matter of choices
With the latest DPCM, the government has presented us with a range of things that we can choose to do again. But do we have to do them by force? Some regions are (and will continue to be) in still advanced stages of the pandemic. There are no univocal answers at the national level, and perhaps it is better to waste caution than superficiality.
This is how I will regulate myself, after following with extreme commitment the news, research and statements of scientists and experts around the world. As the good Marzullo would make me do, I ask myself the questions and I also give myself the answers. (For the official ones you can go here).
Do I have to stay three feet away from others?
Yes. The law asks me to. Reopening does not mean that you can hug again, no matter how hard it is. And I say more: one meter is not a magical distance, beyond which everything is safe. The general principle for me will still be "as far away as possible", especially from crowded places.
Basic measures that reduce the risk of spreading the virus have not suddenly become useless. However, you must wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, use hand sanitizer, avoid touching your face.
Although the media send different (and sometimes conflicting) messages about the danger posed by the coronavirus, it is clear to me that this series of precautions will remain important for a long time, perhaps until there is a vaccine or the famous (and to me chilling) "herd immunity".
How will I notice that precautions are loosening too much?
Ideally, that's not something that can be up to me. I can't judge whether the restrictions work. But there are rules that are applied irregularly from region to region. In many cases you will have to make an informed decision about what is safest for us.
The best choice depends on the health condition, age, and the risk we are willing to tolerate in relation to the benefits. Other parameters are membership of a risk group, or residence in a place where infections have been traced back.
Can I visit family members? Friends? Can I hug them?
I say Yes, but with caution, keeping the social distance. It is much safer for me to socialize outdoors, on patios, lawns, etc. If you happen to go to a family or friend's house, you can open the windows and keep the space well ventilated.
Outdoor areas are generally safer than indoor areas because they have better ventilation, more direct sunlight, and more space for people. None of these elements appear to completely stop the transmission of the virus, but they appear to reduce it.
Even for outdoor dating, it's best not to get too close to anyone I don't live with. Unfortunately, this means no hugs. There are so many friends I'd love to hug right now, but for me that's a no.
Can grandparents see their granddaughter?
The idea that children are physically close to an older person they don't live with has bothered me for months. Grandparents and grandchildren are made to be together, theirs is a great love story. But I would feel horrible if I found out that my daughter ended up making them sick, and then killing them.
My answer in this case is "maybe" and only with great caution and special conditions. Here, too, outdoor visits are to be preferred.
Can I go for a walk or a picnic with some friends?
Going for a walk with a friend in a park is probably better than going to his house and spending hours in his living room. No to excessive proximity, and obviously a mask.
How many people can I find myself with?
The idea of having a house party terrifies me. And it doesn't even seem admissible. But I don't have a number of people in mind. I would think more in terms of density than absolute number. People should be physically spaced, so the number also depends on the size of the space you meet in. Outdoors. Outdoors.
Do we go to church?
I am not a practitioner, if not of meditation. However, my assessment remains the same. Going to a crowded church or equivalent doesn't seem like a great idea to me right now. With a lot of fussiness I would prefer large and very spaced churches, but then I would probably give up, thinking of one detail: singing! Church chants can be risk factors, resulting in more "vigorous" breathing.
Can I expand the "bubble" of people I interact with most in person?
Here I connect directly to the question of grandparents. It is much safer not to, but depending on your tolerance for risk and the need for social contact, you can consider it. The safest bubble even in phase two, of course, is the one that only includes me, but the people I live with are already in my bubble. If for months I have been close to less than a meter with my wife and my child, I spend all day at home, we are already there.
Slowly, cautiously and only if the right conditions are right will I expand my "bubble" to other family members, as long as they adopt the same precautions. Because every person I add to my bubble carries with it the risks of all the people it comes into contact with.
Restaurant: do I go there or don't I go there?
Not now. I do not feel like it. In the medium term probably yes, as long as the tables are sufficiently spaced (which for my perception is more than the meter indicated by the law). I will most certainly go there if the restaurant has outdoor seating.
Zero tolerance, however. I would desert any place that admits even one exception, such as a customer accidentally without a mask away from his table. This is not a zero risk scenario and requires a lot of responsibility, especially for the risk that restaurant operators run.
However, I will reflect on the fact that the pleasure of being in a restaurant must be greater than the risk. After all, I can still order food from restaurants (I already do this with pizzerias) and support local businesses. If I can, even giving a nice tip: it's a small act of love.
Shopping: yes or no?
For the past three months, it was allowed to buy essential products such as food and medicines. I am a borderline case: I have NEVER (I mean never) set foot in a supermarket or pharmacy since 7 March. I will not change the general line of conduct anytime soon, but occasionally I will enter these places again, always with a mask and never in crowded places. No hypermarket.
However, if needed, the privilege is to collect the goods or deliver them home.
I have to cut my hair! Those who remain.
Caution. A haircut means close physical contact and often conversation, there are real risks here. If, as it seems, both the client and the barber-hairdresser wear a mask, things will be fine for me. But the right distance also from other customers, or I don't set foot there.
Will I go back to the office?
In general it depends on the specific conditions of a job. Mine can also have large smart working spaces and could experience fewer problems. Nonetheless, resuming physical presence is an option.
Phase two will see me working in presence only if I can guarantee and guarantee the right distance with colleagues, a rotation of people in presence and the use of masks.
Will I use public transport?
If it were the only option available to go from point A to point B I would. Being able to not use it, I prefer to avoid it as well to make it somehow safer for those forced to use it.
Will I take a bath this summer?
Given that I do not know where, if so, wherever it will be, I will only do it if I can keep my distance from everyone else, both in and out of the water.
None of the many experts I have read research and statements about say that water can carry the virus and infect someone - the risk comes simply from being close to other people.
On the nose, given the possible density, better beach than swimming pool.
Cinemas and theaters reopen on June 15th!
For me, phase two in theater and cinema is a no. If indoors, I avoid because viewers sit indoors for a long period of time. I consider going to a drive-in if there are any around.
Ditto for any shows, only outdoors and with the right distance for the public.
Will I take the baby to a playground?
Doesn't seem like a great idea to me. Children do not take the right distance (poor things, they should never) and the play structures are large surfaces constantly touched.
In the woods and around for walks yes, however, with a mask and hand cleaner, trying to assess from time to time the distance of any "crossings" between my daughter and other children.
Will I send my daughter on summer activities with the school?
No. There is not enough information on how the virus spreads among children and I prefer to keep an eye on mine this summer.
The worry will continue with the return to school. Let's hope more answers will be found by then, or I'll have to live with the fear that the little girl could contract the virus and bring it home. Or choose not to let her go back to school. (I specify that mine should attend kindergarten, it is not yet a context in which one can remain disciplined in a school).
These are the choices I have planned for my phase two. What are yours? Let me know.