The View From Italy

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March 18, 2020 1:29 p.m.
TPM Reader LT sends in this dispatch:
I live in Sicily where we’ve watched this become a pandemic. It’s been  more than one week now that we’ve been asked to stay at home, going outside only for groceries or medicine. Pretty much everything else is closed up and very few people are on the streets now.

There are a few small grocery stores I can reach in less than 5 minutes on my bicycle with plastic carrying box on the back. If the store is a small one with a lot of goods packed into tight spaces, you might have to take a number outside and wait your turn and in any case, once inside be warned to stay one meter away from other shoppers.
The clerks are masked and gloved, but the shelves are full so you’d never know there was anything out of the ordinary (no panic buying of toilet paper) though most are out-of-stock on any sort of hand-sanitizer while the pharmacies have hand-written signs outside telling you they’re out of stock on masks as well.
You’re asked to carry a written and signed declaration of why you are not in your house if you go out and I’ve seen the police stopping those who don’t look like they have a purpose for being out, though people can be seen out walking their dogs or carrying grocery bags.
Each evening at 6 p.m. we go out onto our balcony to wave to our neighbors and perhaps play some music loudly and sing or clap along in solidarity. The 7 p.m. TV news broadcasts try to break up the grim reports of the virus spread with clips of people all over Italy doing the same. Flags and hand made signs “Andra tutto bene” (All will be well) hang from balconies all over the town.
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