What Italy’s lockdown looks like 17 days in from a Penn Hills expat
Wednesday, March 25, 2020 | 11:31 AM
A former professional baseball player from Penn Hills who has lived in Italy for nearly 40 years says life has totally changed there since the country moved to a state of total lockdown amid the covid-19 pandemic.
Tony Lonero, 60, has been in quarantine with his wife, Mimma, for 17 days in Anzio, Italy, a small city on the country’s eastern shoreline and 32 miles south of Rome.
Lonero said Italian life really centers around the “piazza,” or the public square where residents can find cafés, bars and churches.
“Your whole life revolves around that. So the culture part of your life is done (under a lockdown),” he said.
Italian schools and universities in Italy closed March 4, with several northern provinces being placed in lockdown by March 8. A day later, the entire country was placed in a lockdown. By March 22, the country’s bars, restaurants and factories producing non-essential items were closed.
Lonero said he is allowed to leave his home only to buy food at the local markets. When he ventures out, he can’t leave with anyone else and he must download a travel slip from the government’s website. He has to print it each time he leaves and bring it with him. If he’s stopped by a police barricade, which is highly likely, he must present proper identification, the travel slip and a receipt from the store showing he bought food.
“If you don’t have a receipt from the store, you can get arrested,” Lonero said. “So it’s pretty stressful.”
He is also not allowed to travel to a neighboring city to visit his elderly in-laws.
As of Wednesday, Italy’s total confirmed coronavirus cases reached 69,176. There have been 6,820 deaths and 8,326 people have recovered. And although deaths from the pandemic there appear to have slowed, with Italy’s government recording smaller day-to-day increases in new coronavirus cases this week, Lonero isn’t totally convinced the lockdown has worked.
“It’s still not good here … how long can we go like this – two, three months? Can you shut a whole economy down with no one working for four months? I don’t know,” he said.
As someone who suffers from multiple sclerosis, he emphasizes the need to stay somewhat active. So he tries to get outside to walk the dog in the early morning hours, which he describes as an eerie experience.
“Italians are lively people. Seeing the streets be all quiet … there’s nobody talking, no dogs barking. It’s really creepy,” he said.
An avid cyclist, Lonero also jumps on his stationary bicycle trainer, which he has fixed outside on his patio, every day.
“You have to listen to what the government says. Don’t go against them … but these political people gotta understand we gotta keep our sanity,” he said.
Lonero said he isn’t sure if the U.S. should follow Italy’s and other country’s example by implementing a total lockdown. But if it does get to that point, his advice on staying sane is to stay in touch with loved ones and God.
“I’m a really strong believer in the man upstairs, God,” he said. “You just gotta pray. You can’t get out of this by yourself.”