Living in lockdown: Dublin woman Victoria McAuley tells Her what it's like in Rome right now
Italy is currently in lockdown and Victoria McAuley's life has changed overnight.
After seeing multiple social media videos of life in lockdown, I decided to get in touch with one of my friends who has been living in the Italian capital since 2011.
Victoria, her partner Giancarlo, and their daughters, aged three and one, are currently experiencing day six of social distancing aka - the new normal.
As a wholesale account manager in Blueface, a Comcast business company, Victoria can work from home but Giancarlo is an independent business owner and understandably, is feeling the hit. She says the best thing to come out of all this is family time which currently involves lots of arts and crafts.
Having grown up in Ireland, Victoria is watching everything unfold from her apartment in Rome and says that she hopes Irish people take the situation seriously.
Discussing the viral video that showed crowds of people in Temple Bar at the weekend, Victoria says:
"It breaks my heart. I am living the worst and don’t want to see my Ireland end up like my Italy. Italy can cope with the hit, Ireland can’t. In saying that Italy is really struggling. We need help".
Not far from here, nurses & doctors are working to prepare for the impact of a global pandemic. Everyone is working 24/7. This is an insult to their efforts. There is very clear public health advice. Follow it. All options will be kept under constant review #CoronaVirusUpdates https://t.co/XQvJ7tC13D
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 14, 2020
Victoria tells of how the Covid-19 virus started in the north of the country and quickly spread.
"We started with very few cases in the north of Italy. As the number began to rise, the government initially closed schools and play schools, and about ten days later, the full lockdown happened.
"Thankfully, people are taking it seriously and have realized how serious the situation is. We need the numbers to stop rising and only by staying away from each other, this will happen".
Victoria went on to describe life in lockdown, with the current circumstances in Italy likely to continue until April 3 at the least.
"Everything is closed except for supermarkets and chemists. You cannot leave your house without a government to piece of paper signed stating where you are going and why. If you don't have this, the police can fine you. The piece of paper says you can leave the house for emergencies, the supermarket or chemist and/or special work circumstances".
"My husband owns a restaurant and a boutique so he is taking a massive hit. Thankfully I work for a tech company so I can work perfectly from home with our technology".
"At the moment, we are told to stay home, wash hands, avoid contact with others and leave the house only if strictly necessary. And if we do we need to stay at least a metre away from others with masks and gloves".
For parents who are currently at home full-time with their children, the mum of two has some insight.
"The lockdown brings out the most human side of parenting. Phones off after work and back to painting/crafts and spending time as a family which due to various commitments we don’t do enough of anymore. Quality time together. It’s such a surreal situation for any family to find themselves 24 hours a day together every day".
Victoria also has some advice for people in Ireland.
"Stay at home for the sake of every person you love, and every person who is already sick. Please, please, please. Take all possible precautions and avoid contact with other people, practicing self-distancing.
"The health system is taking a huge blow, hospitals just don't have enough beds or ventilators to assist the number of people that need care. Nurses and doctors are working around the clock, for us as a nation. They are the true heroes".