‘I have no work’: Italy’s tour guides, teachers and business owners struggling with the coronavirus crisis

'I have no work': Italy's tour guides, teachers and business owners struggling with the coronavirus crisis
All schools and universities in Italy are now closed as part of measures aimed at containing the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: AFP
The Local's readers explain how school and office closures, tourist cancellations, and other effects of the coranavirus crisis in Italy have left them wondering how they'll pay the bills.

When we asked readers across Italy how the quarantine measures put in place to combat the spread of coronavirus had affected them, many of you told us it had been a lot to get used to, and a little stressful at times, though most said they were coping well.

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

But some reported a more serious impact on their lives, as the crisis hits businesses and jobs and leaves families struggling to cope following school and office closures.

“I already work from home and now my husband's office has closed down because of coronavirus, so we are both at home, expected to work full time,” says Catherine Monagle in Turin, Piedmont, one of the northern regions worst hit by the outbreak, and among the first to be put under quarantine measures.

“Because of the school closures in Piedmont, we have now had our one year old and three year old at home with us for weeks already as their asilo nido (nursery school) is also closed,” she explains.

“Trying to work at home in this situation is completely impossible as very small children need constant attention and care. We are both having to cut corners in our work to manage, and arguing over who needs to take responsibility for the kids and when.”

“While our employers have been kind and patient and understanding about the situation, we expect we will need to take annual or unpaid leave though if this goes on too much longer.”

The deserted Piazza del Duomo in Florence on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Those working in the tourist industry say their businesses are struggling badly or that jobs have already been lost due to the impact on the sector.

“Our business is taking a massive hit. We deal with mostly US travellers to Italy,” says Liam Rogers in Florence.

“My wife already lost her job due to the economic affect on inbound tourism to Florence,” he adds. “So she can at least be home with our two young boys;”

Tour guides and teachers are among the contractors left wondering how they'll pay the bills after suddenly losing all of their customers and contracts.

Helen Bayley, a tour guide based in Florence, Tuscany, told The Local: “I have no work. I'm highly concerned about paying my rent and bills.”

Coronavirus: The everyday precautions to take if you're in Italy

Anna Mcpartland is an English teacher living in Arquata Scrivia in the region of Piemonte, on the border with Liguria.

“All my contracts have been cancelled and I can't see schools reopening again before the summer,” she tells The Local. “My husband who is a surveyor has also had everything put on hold.”

“Luckily the government has announced that mortgage payments can be suspended for three months as well as household bills like water and electricity which obviously helps.”

On Wednesday, the government announced 25 billion euros in funding to fight the coronavirus outbreak, with part of that money destined for those hit financially by the crisis

“We are preparing rules to protect companies, workers and families,” Labour Minister Nunzia Catalfo said.

The government also announced it was working on plan to let families temporarily suspend some mortgage and social tax payments, and said “partial state guarantees” were being discussed to help Italy's creaking banks survive.

However, details of the financial rescue plan remain scarce as the full measures are yet to be announced.

And there has been no word yet on whether any help will be available for renters, or what kind of help will be provided for the self-employed, or to parents struggling to pay for childcare they can't actually use.

A parent helps her child complete schoolwork at home in northern Italy on Thursday. Photo: AFP

“We are still required to pay for the private asilo nido the little ones attend, almost 1000 euros a month,” even though the children aren't allowed to go, explains Catherine, and she explains a babysitter isn't really an option in the current situation – nor is asking for help from the childrens' grandmother “as we feel we need to protect her most of all.”

“Having said all that, we believe it is important we all take steps to protect the most vulnerable in our community,” she adds.

“This inconvenience and insanity-inducing situation is something that we just have to accept as our duty in difficult times.”

The emergency quarantine measures are set to stay in place until April 3. As Italy starts to adjust to the rules and the situation becomes the new normal, everyone is waiting to see if the restrictions are enough to contain the outbreak.

But beyond the immediate crisis, those hit hardest by the financial fallout are waiting anxiously to find out what happens next, and if and how the governent will be able to help them get back on their feet.

Thanks to everyone who has sent in their comments, includng those not included in the article.

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


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