covid-19 update: life in rome
During a pandemic, nowhere is what it used to be. Italy went through an extremely intense lockdown in the Spring to fight against COVID-19. Read about us getting stuck in California for almost three months here and when the country started to reopen and what that meant for Rome here.
Since May, the majority of establishments have reopened, restaurants are operating at a lower capacity and have added outdoor seating to help supplement their lost indoor space, museums have reopened their doors, we can return to the gym (with restrictions), we’re still required to wear masks everywhere indoors and outdoors when we can’t maintain social distancing, and we can travel within Italy. There’s a new travel ban exemption for those in relationships. Couples who have been separated for months due to COVID-19 can now return to Italy to be with their significant other. Read more about traveling to Italy here.
August is Italy’s holiday month. It’s the one month out of the year where cities shut down and families head to the coast for their annual vacation. Almost every butcher, cheese shop, bakery, gelateria, and restaurant in our neighborhood was closed from August 1st to August 31st.
A lot of young adults spend their days at the beach and their nights at the bars and nightclubs. When we were in Milano Marittima, we were shocked to see the number of people at the bars and clubs downtown. People were standing shoulder to shoulder, squeezing through one another to walk down the street, and 90% of them were not wearing masks. There was a police presence to maintain safety, but we didn’t see anyone enforcing social distancing or mask-wearing. I can only imagine this situation mirrored many of Italy’s coastal cities during August.
Towards the end of August, the Ministry of Health came out with new guidelines that masks were required from 6 pm to 6 am when social distancing wasn’t possible and that it would be enforced. They also closed all clubs and bars.
In Rome, the city is slowly coming back to life. More people are out and about and there is a small tourist presence. Public transit is still supposed to be operating at a decreased capacity, but most of the bus lines in our neighborhood are operating at normal capacity. Some buses no longer have signs on seats prohibiting people from sitting and even when they do, some of the buses I’ve been on have no empty seats. Surprisingly, the metro remains fairly empty.
Every restaurant that we have been to has outdoor seating. Many places take your temperature and ask for your information for contact tracing. Whether it’s a coffee shop, grocery store, restaurant, clothing store, or pharmacy, every establishment provides hand sanitizer and requires masks.
I am very thankful that 95% of people I see wear masks, regardless of whether they agree with it or not (except our experience in Milano Marittima). Security guards will not let you in without a mask. We haven’t experienced people coughing in other people’s faces, yelling at and harassing people for choosing to wear a mask, or huge protests about their freedoms and liberties being taken away. To see this on the news about the US every week has made me very thankful to be in Italy, but very worried about our loved ones back home.
The countries surrounding Italy have had huge increases in daily new cases, so mandatory 2-week quarantines and COVID tests have been implemented if you choose to travel to those countries. Because we’re here with the US military, they have the final say on our travels. Currently, we are prohibited from visiting the majority of the neighboring countries. We don’t expect to travel outside of Italy for the rest of this year. We’ve fallen in love with Italy so our hearts are happy to be able to still travel here as long as it remains safe to do so.
How are you doing? What’s it like where you are? I hope you’re all doing well. Stay safe and healthy. XO.