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Fundraisers and balcony singalongs: How Italians are rallying together amid the coronavirus crisis

People across Italy have been rallying to keep each others' spirits up as the whole country gets used to life under quarantine.

Fundraisers and balcony singalongs: How Italians are rallying together amid the coronavirus crisis
A child hangs a drawing reading "tutto andrà bene" ("everything will be alright") outside in the town of Manta, northern Italy, on Thursday. Photo: Marco Bertorelli/AFP

From organising fundraisers for hospitals and getting groups of volunteers together to help the elderly to starting impromptu singalongs with neighbours from their balconies, Italians are banding together to fight the coronavirus outbreak and keep spirits high – despite having to spend much of the day indoors under quarantine.

READ ALSO: 'Stay at home': Italy's new coronavirus quarantine rules explained

Streets have been eerily quiet across Italian towns and cities, particularly at night, under the new restrictions.

One night of silence on Wednesday proved more than enough for some residents of the Tuscan town of Siena, who by Thursday night were singing a harmony from their windows to liven things up.

Residents of one street in Turin danced the macarena from their balconies. 

More singalongs are expected on Friday night, and a “musical flashmob” has even been advertised in Rome.

An appeal has also been circulated on WhatsApp groups calling on Italians to play instruments at their windows at 6pm on Friday. 
 
“For those few minutes, our country will become a huge free concert!” the message said.
 
Another message is encouraging people to sing specific songs on certain days.
 
Meanwhile on Thursday, many families with children home from school made banners bearing the phrase andrà tutto bene (“everything will be alright”) and hung them from windows and balconies.

Other efforts have focused on fundraising, particularly to support hospitals in southern Italy who are now racing against time to prepare for potential outbreaks in poorer regions.

One appeal to fund equipment for a hospital in Sicily had raised more than 50,000 on Friday.

“We want to do something truly effective to help the Sant'Antonio Abate hospital in Trapani,” wrote the organisers, who specified that funds raised would be used to buy ventilators for the hospital and, if they raise enough, “other equipment such as masks, gloves and protective medical suits.”

“We'll be able to lend a hand to doctors and especially patients in serious conditions in a place where there are really few beds in intensive care,” they wrote, adding that Trapani hospital has only three assisted ventilation devices, and that “hospitals in Sicily have very few intensive care beds.”

READ ALSO: 

Most of the donations to the appeal seemed to be coming from Italians, in Sicily and beyond.

“Solidarity is a constitutional civic duty,” wrote one donor on the Gofundme page. “Today we're doing it for others, but tomorrow we may need it ourselves.”

In Naples, a similar appeal made by a 23-year-old medical student to help a hospital in Naples has raised more than €500,000 so far for medical equipment.

The fundraising appeals are not only being made in southern Italy, but across the country.

Another appeal was set up in the Tuscan city of Pisa, which was nearing the €14,000 mark on Friday.

“Covid-19 has also arrived in Pisa and our doctors, nurses and health workers are doing everything in their power to better treat infected people,” read the appeal for help for the city's intensive care units.

“Everyone, in our small way, even if we have to stay at home for some time, can really give great support to those who are on the front lines in hospitals,” the organisers wrote.

One supporter of the campaign based abroad wrote in English: “Reading the news from my beloved Italy these days is very worrying but through this fundraiser we can actually do something.”

With more hospital fundraisers being set up in Italy by the hour, anyone wanting to donate can search for a campaign in their area on Gofundme or other crowdfunding websites.

Some hospitals are also launching their own official fundrasing campaigns, such as Rome's Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases.

The italian Red Cross are delivering food and medicine to anyone in the country who needs it, and you can donate to support their efforts here.

Meanwhile many people in towns and cities across Italy have also set up groups of volunteers taking food and medicine to the elderly, after the government said all those aged over 75 must stay indoors as a precaution.

 

Find all The Local's coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy here

Member comments

  1. I love Italy and many people ask why, one of the many reasons, is the people. Is it any wonder when you read this article?

    We were supposed to go on holiday there again in May, sadly it will not be happening.

    I wish beautiful Italy and its citizens a speedy recovery.

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COVID-19 RULES

Is Italy’s government planning to scrap all Covid measures?

The new Italian government has announced the end of some remaining Covid health measures. Here's a look at what will - and won't - change.

Is Italy’s government planning to scrap all Covid measures?

Few Covid-related restrictions remain in Italy today, six months after the nationwide ‘state of emergency’ ended.

The previous government had kept only a handful of precautionary measures in place – which the new government, led by Giorgia Meloni, must now decide whether or not to keep.

The cabinet is holding a meeting on Monday and will issue a decree this week detailing any changes to the health measures.

Many expect the government to scrap all measures entirely by the end of the year, after Meloni and her party criticised the way Mario Draghi’s administration handled the pandemic throughout its tenure. 

Meloni clearly stated in her first address to parliament last Tuesday that “we will not replicate the model of the previous government” when it comes to managing Covid.

READ ALSO: Five key points from Meloni’s first speech as new Italian PM

While she acknowledged that Italy could be hit by another Covid wave, or another pandemic, she did not say how her government would deal with it.

Meanwhile, new health minister Orazio Schillaci issued a statement on Friday confirming the end of several existing measures, saying he “considers it appropriate to initiate a progressive return to normality in activities and behaviour”.

Workplace ban for unvaccinated medical staff

Schillaci confirmed that the ministry will allow doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to return to work after being suspended because they refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Those who refuse vaccination will be “reintegrated” into the workforce before the rule expires at the end of this year, as part of what the minister called a “gradual return to normality”.

They will be allowed to return “in light of the worrying shortage of medical and health personnel” and “considering the trend of Covid infections”, the statement said.

Fines issued to healthcare staff aged over 50 who refused vaccination would also be cancelled, it added.

There were some 1,579 doctors and dentists refusing vaccination at the end of October, representing 0.3 percent of all those registered with Italy’s National Federation of the Orders of Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists (Fnomceo) 

Daily Covid data reports

Schillaci also confirmed in the statement that the health ministry will no longer release daily updates on Covid-19 contagion rates, hospital cases and deaths, saying this would be replaced by a weekly update.

It said it would however make the data available at any time to relevant authorities.

Mask requirement in hospitals to stay?

The requirement to wear face masks in hospitals, care homes and other healthcare facilities expires on Monday, October 31st.

At a meeting on the same day the government is expected to decide whether to extend the measure.

READ ALSO: What can we expect from Italy’s new government?

While the government had looked at scrapping the requirement, it reportedly changed stance at the last minute on Monday after facing heavy criticism from health experts.

Media reports published while the meeting was in progress on Monday said government sources had indicated the measure would in fact be extended.

Confirmation is expected to come later on Monday.

Italy’s face mask rules in care homes and healthcare facilities are up for renewal. Photo by Thierry ZOCCOLAN / AFP

‘Green pass’ health certificate

There is no indication that the new government plans to bring back any requirements to show a ‘green pass’: the digital certificate proving vaccination against or recent recovery from Covid, or a negative test result.

The pass is currently only required for entry to healthcare facilities and care homes, and this is expected to remain the case.

‘Dismantling the measures’

Some of the confirmed changes were strongly criticised by Italy’s most prominent healthcare experts.

Head of the Gimbe association for evidence-based medicine, Nino Cartabellotta, said the focus on cancelling fines for unvaccinated healthcare workers was “irrelevant from a health point of view .. but unscientific and highly diseducative”.

He told news agency Ansa it was “absolutely legitimate” for a new government to discontinue the previous administration’s measures, but that this “must also be used to improve everything that the previous government was unable to do”.

The government should prioritise “more analytical collection of data on hospitalised patients, investments in ventilation systems for enclosed rooms … accelerating coverage with vaccine boosters,” he said.

However, the plan at the moment appeared to be “a mere dismantling of the measures in place,” he said, “in the illusory attempt to consign the pandemic to oblivion, ignoring the recommendations of the international public health authorities”.

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