London is a resilient city. It’s been burned to the ground many times - most famously in 1666 by a fire started in a bakery. The Luftwaffe did their worst in 1940 but, like New York after 9/11 we have bounced back. This will be no different. The bewildering factor here has been the speed and the extent of the lockdown. We were advised to practise social distancing and work from home from last Monday 16th but not enough people took heed and over the weekend, after the news was full of pictures of people gathering public parks and in pubs and restaurants, our Prime Minister made an address to the nation telling us in no uncertain terms to stay home. Everything except essential services is closed. We are not to gather in groups of more than 2 if at all. He said for three weeks, but I think we all think it will be longer - considerably longer. Hospitals are severely curtailing visiting and all events and gatherings except funerals have been banned. It feel surreal. Our food shops are struggling to cope with the demand - one side of the British nature has not shown itself well - too many people have been stockpiling essential supplies and there are now shortages of basic products like toilet paper and canned goods. But on the other hand, a huge swell of support has risen up for local independent stores who have been organising home deliveries, particularly to the elderly and vulnerable. And endless community programmes have been created to support those in most need.
Video conferencing has become the new normal. It was my birthday today and my team formed an online choir to sing happy Birthday to me this morning. We are having to adapt quickly. It’s amazing how easily we have adapted with technology to home working - virtually overnight. But we are missing the cultural benefit of all being in the office together and we are struggling to work out how to keep it going. But we’ll get there...
Regular exercise, lots of calling friends, rationing news and eating healthily. Chocolate helps though…
Name: Piera Mammini
Retired Beauty & Fashion Communications Professional
What is the mood in your city? How long have you been asked to shelter in place? How long do you think it will last.
Milan is very affected by the virus, like all over the Region (Lombardy). Only today (March 24th) we had in Milan 743 new victims, and the infected people are in total around 3000. (source: Corriere della Sera, the biggest daily national newspaper). Therefore, it seems that those numbers are very underestimated, due to the difficulty to test all people with symptoms, and those hidden at their home.
At the beginning people from Milano did not realize how serious was the problem, so they continued their lives without any responsibility. Only in a second moment people understood the danger, even though still now there are some people (few) in the streets. But the same reaction has been all over the Country. We are famous for never following rules, isn’t it?
All shops are now closed (except food and pharmacies), all public and private offices are closed, schools and universities are closed, and cinemas, theatres, pub, restaurants, cafeterias. Everything. The coronavirus stopped our lives. Like a bad sorcery, our world doesn’t exist anymore.
At the moment we are asked to stay home until April 3rd, but every day our Prime Minister postpones the term. We don’t know, as a matter of facts.
I personally believe that it will last until Summer, maybe not so strictly if (only if) we will arrive to stop new infections. My husband is a doctor and he says that.
Milan is a desert, never seen or even imagined before.
What is the response within the business community now, do you know of any businesses that are reinventing themselves to help?
Manufacturing industries are still working, paying some attention to preventative cautions for workers, but those are very worried about that: they are afraid of the danger of the virus, but also to loose their job. Some services companies allowed people to work from home, but they all are in a very strong pain. Smallest companies are really in danger.
Some textile industries has stopped the normal production to reconvert their products in protective masks that are very needed in hospitals, homes, communities, etc. And plastic producers of snorkeling masks reconverted them in protective masks as well. That is all I know.
I must say that many rich people and companies made very generous donations to hospitals to arrange new intensive therapy pavilions, adding new places for those who need help to breath.
How are you staying sane during this period?
My husband and I are both over 70, so we must absolutely stay home, since the beginning of March. We are both retired, we don’t have to work from home, as others (younger than us) do. Nowadays, no matter what is your age, everybody must stay home, young people and children too. Not only elderly people. Everybody.
Happily we live in a large apartment, we don’t have a garden but we have a terrace, so we have room enough to walk and move around, also to stay… alone, some moments in the day!
But we share TV watching, reading, listening music, playing Scrabble, cooking, also cleaning the house, because the woman who usually help us must stay at home too.
The day is very long, never ending. The best moment is at dinner time, because we connect us with my daughter and grand daughter, having dinner together, chatting on a video call. It is very funny and a big relief.
I buy food and other necessaries things through some supermarket online site, but we must wait many many days before they came, so it is important do not forget anything and to plan correctly our needs. Which means the wait is more or less two weeks and half. There are also small fruit & vegetables, meat, and dairy shops in our district that came at home more quickly, but they are very expensive because they doubled the prices… So I prefer to wait.
Can you imagine how difficult it is? No. if you don’t try.
I can’t say I am not afraid of the virus. I am. A lot. Most of all, for my child and her child. But staying home I hope we all will safely survive.
We all are also very worried about the economic situation waiting for us “after”. It will be a very hard part of our life. Lots of people will loose their jobs, small companies will disappear, and big one… I don’t know.
It is a war. We will see how to restart after