A few days ago, I heard one of my close friends complaining about how some people are not wearing masks on the street. It was strange because the police control the street, and if they catch someone not wearing a mask, then he/she has to pay a fine. At first, I doubted her because I firmly believed that Italy is currently doing well with COVID-19. Even some Korean articles discuss how Italy is doing relatively better in terms of COVID-19 than other European nations such as France or Germany because Italy is benchmarking “K-quarantine”(According to Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, “K-Quarantine Models, including drive-thru screening clinics and community treatment centers.”). But there are still 1,000 to 2,000 daily cases in Italy. To confirm my friend’s story, I went to Darsena in Navigli (Milan), which is an artificial lake near Porta Tichinese. Navigli is where most people go on Friday or Saturday night.
|[A photo of the author in front of Porta Ticinese. Photo credit: Greta Ida Stella Ladini]|
What I saw there was surprising. The streets of Darsena and Porta Ticinese were full of people as usual, but most of them weren’t wearing masks. Besides Darsena or Porta Ticinese, people wear masks not only to follow the laws, but also to protect themselves since they are fully aware of the danger of this pandemic. But oddly, I saw no such awareness of the pandemic while I was wandering around the streets of Darsena and Porta Ticinese with my friends. People were just pushing their masks all the way down to their chins, facing each other, and having conversations. Again, I had never seen this issue elsewhere in Italy.
|[A photo on the street of Darsena. Photo credits: Marine De Passorio Peyssard]|
This phenomenon only occurs in Navigli, because Navigli is a perfect place to hang out. As the photo shows, in Navigli, people usually sit on the ground and chat over bottles of beer. If you know anything about the Han River in Seoul, you will understand it better, because people do pretty much the same things in both places. Some people also gather there without masks in the middle of the pandemic. The similarity I found between some Italians in Navigli and Koreans hanging out by the Han River is that they don’t know how serious this pandemic is. I felt that they are not worried about getting infected; they are just hoping that they are not one of those “unlucky” people who catch the virus. This means that there is still a minority of people who refuse to follow the social distancing regulations. As long as this minority of people continuously shows a lack of awareness of the pandemic, I think it is nearly impossible for Italy to get rid of the virus.
|[Behind us, there was a group of people trying to take a photo without masks.
Photo Credits: Nandita Deveraj]
By looking at the circumstances in my area, I thought Italy was doing fairly well, especially in comparison to other European countries. Our school was doing great with all the social distancing rules, as were people in public spaces. For instance, I also visited Duomo di Milano (a gothic Catholic cathedral) a few weeks ago, and there were strict social restrictions just like in South Korea. However, by looking at the streets of Navigli, I just realized the existence of a minority of people who hinders society’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Although Italy is well-known as one of the well-performing European nations, it will be difficult for the country to completely prevent the spread of the virus as long as there is a minority of people gathering frequently and disregarding the guidelines.
American School of Milan
Gaeun Lee firstname.lastname@example.org
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