Video produced by Mia Fitzharris
“Time goes so slowly,” says Rosa Di Maggio, 30. She’s one of 60 million Italians currently on nationwide lockdown, under Italy’s strict measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
While confined to her home in Conversano, a small town in Puglia, in southern Italy, Di Maggio composed a video diary for Yahoo News on Monday, walking viewers through a typical day for herself, her husband, and many Italians in what has become the new normal.
“I spend all my time working on my laptop,” she said. “Cooking, cleaning my house, watching TV. We can’t go outside, except on our balcony. And this is very tough. We feel so stressed, and our body is in pain.”
On March 9, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that he was extending restrictions already in place in northern Italy, to cover the entire country. The measures include travel restrictions, a ban on all public events, the closures of schools and public spaces, and the suspension of religious services, including funerals and weddings.
“This is our darkest hour,” Conte told La Repubblica, echoing the famous epigram from Winston Churchill, Britain’s wartime prime minister. “But we’ll get through.”
Di Maggio explained that she is able to leave her home to go to the supermarket, but that even these brief trips require filling out a “self-declaration” form that must be approved by authorities. The fine for violating the lockdown is the equivalent of $224.
“Only one person per family can go outside, and just for three reasons: to go to work, for medical reasons, and to go food shopping,” she said. “If we lie, we will get in serious legal trouble.”
The restrictions are an extreme effort by the Italian government to curb the spread of COVID-19 and alleviate the burden on the country’s overwhelmed healthcare system. Italy is currently the worst hit country outside China, with over 31,000 cases and over 2,500 deaths reported so far.
“Fortunately, I don’t know anyone infected with this virus. But there are many people that don’t know if they have it,” Di Maggio told Yahoo News.
“My biggest fears about this virus is the health of my parents, of all my family and my dear friends,” she said.
The unfolding of the outbreak in Italy started an estimated week to 10 days ahead of the outbreak in the United States, and many Italians are taking to social media to share a message they wish they had heeded 10 days earlier: Stay at home. One video has already attracted nearly 4.5 million views on YouTube.
“If we made mistakes to prevent coronavirus, you can choose not to repeat them,” Di Maggio told Yahoo News. “I wish everybody good luck.”