Sunday morning our world changed in the Milan metro area in ways that we would have never anticipated. Cases of the Coronavirus were diagnosed in towns outside of Milan and those towns were put on lock down, no one in and no one out. As I digested the news, more news arrived. The governor of Lombardy issued an ordinance for the whole region: no university classes, no school, no sporting events, no performances, no cinema, no religious meetings and no public or private meetings of any kind. Then it snowballed into museums, libraries, public offices, etc., all closed.
As you can imagine, such drastic measures by the government caused wide-spread panic. By Sunday night people had ransacked grocery stores and pharmacies, stockpiling what they deemed as necessary survival supplies. Monday morning I realized I was out of toilet paper and coffee and headed to the store where there was chaos and empty shelves.
On Monday the city of Milan, Italy’s economic power house, came to a stand still. The normally bustling streets of the city were eerily quiet. Piazza Duomo, the city’s heart, usually full of locals and tourists, was a ghost town. Major events such as Carnevale were cancelled and Design Week was postponed to June. The Coronavirus brought the city and its economy to its knees.
The number of cases and deaths continue to climb but there seems to be less panic and fear. Thankfully, today (Thursday, February 28th) the local authorities are discussing the re-opening of the Duomo and other public places. As of Monday, March 2nd, the Duomo ticket office will not be open but rather entry into the cathedral will only be allowed to those who bought their tickets online. Apparently, they will allow small groups of people to enter at a time. There is also talk of museums reopening. Schools, sporting events, cinema and music performances, religious gatherings, and all other public meetings are cancelled until March 1st.
I’m hopeful that normalcy will return soon.