Towards a New Normal

Ten weeks later, and once again I am on my little train.

It’s not like before.

For one thing, the train is immaculate, having been disinfected during the night. Social Distancing has been carefully thought out, meaning that the seating capacity of the train has been drastically reduced, although the train is so quiet there’s really no need for the signs. There are four of us in this carriage, and for once, all is quiet: except for the regular announcements telling you how to travel safely. There is even a new hashtag: #IoViaggioSicuro (I travel safely) to remind one of the need to take precautions.

Then there is the small matter of the obligation to wear a “mascherina” and gloves. It’s still quite early in the morning, and it’s only May, but I don’t mind telling you that it’s quite hot in this kit!

I left the house three times during the ten weeks of lockdown, and this week alone I will be going out three times. I’m actually finding it quite difficult to leave the house. Rather than grabbing my bag and keys, today I checked, double checked and treble checked that I had everything I needed, to cover every eventuality. My bag weighs a tonne.

We are now able to travel within our region, which for those of us lucky enough to live in Sabina, includes Rome. We no longer have to carry the blooming “autocertificazione” document with us. Bars and shops are open, museums too, even some restaurants. Also, mother of all mercies, hairdressers.

The reopening feels fast and sudden, but also , much to my surprise (I would not have travelled today except for a long awaited dentist’s appointment), safe and well thought through. We must social distance: if we are in an enclosed public space we must wear a mascherina and single use gloves. To help us financially, the price of single use mascherine is capped at 50 cents. But on the way to the train, and therefore with an urgent need, I paid Eu3.50, and found five masks in the packet, instead of seven.

One way footfall in public places is ensured by separate entrances and exits. For the likes of restaurants and hairdressers, reservations are required, and it is obligatory to provide contact details, for track and trace purposes. We can enter a museum only with a ticket that was bought online, not only for track and trace purposes, but also to minimise person to person contact. A well organised, orderly journey to Life With Covid.

Because at the end of the day, the virus has not gone away. It is still here. There is still no vaccine, and no herd immunity. We have to learn how to live safely alongside people who may have the virus. We are not “on the other side”, we are just trying to find a new normal.

As the train pootles through the countryside on the way to the city, I’m seeing Italy at its very best. The scenery is, as always, stunning, and this spring (my fourth here), the weather has been just about perfect, following a mild winter. Mother Nature has put on THE most stunning display this year: a thank you, perhaps, for not having been trampled over, and polluted by humanity for ten weeks.

We really do not know what the future will hold. We do not know whether the Italian government (or any other, for that matter) has got a grip on this situation. What I am sure of, however, is that we have to learn to coexist with this virus. Comfortable as it was sitting alone on top of a beautiful Italian hill, tending to our olives, and grape vines, and veg plot, and hens (but that is another story), life must go on. Not as it did before Covid, but go on it must. We must finish renovating the house. We must visit, and be visited by our family and friends. We must go to the dentist (which is why I’m on my little train). We must go to work, visit the butcher, the baker, and IKEA.

But we must do it safely.

And so, for now, I will do as I’m told. I will wear the stupid mascherina, and the nasty disposable gloves, even though I know fine well that they are at best useless, and maybe even dangerous. I will leave my contact information wherever I go. I won’t touch my face, even though the sweaty mask makes it itch. I will wash my hands for much longer than the required twenty seconds, and not just because the gloves are so stinky.

No more #IoRestoaCasa #istayathome … Now #IoViaggioSicuro #itravelsafely

I will stay safe, stay careful, stay positive, and just do as I’m blooming well told. And I hope that you will too.

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