Residents of Rome are actually following guidelines provided by the Italian government for the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus, said Ülle Toode, an Estonian journalist and communications teacher living in the Italian capital.
"It seems to me as though Italians are trying to behave exactly as recommended right now," Toode told ERR on Monday. "Seriously — they are not kissing on the cheek, they are not hugging or shaking hands, and they don't leave home if at all possible."
According to Toode, this is even a bit surprising, as Italians are known for laws typically not being very strictly followed there. "It's an interesting time to see how Italy reacts," she added.
State TV and commercial TV channels alike are constantly airing messages calling on people to remain home, she noted.
The Estonian journalist said she was surprised to see that while Italians are typically eating at home or out around noon on Sunday, stores were packed at midday this past Sunday, filled with people buying primarily nonperishable and hygiene products.
"The canned goods shelf was practically empty; this is a completely different situation compared to the preceding days or weeks," she described. "People are stocking up on dry goods, toilet paper, pads and tampons — goods like that. If you look in line at what people have in their shopping baskets, it's really like they're preparing for a period where they will now have to be at home for a long time."
Toode also noted that a theory is being propagated in alternative media sources that Italy is a test country to see how a democratic society can cope with the management of the virus.
The Italian government placed millions of people in Northern Italy under quarantine with the goal of curbing the outbreak of the coronavirus that has hit the country hard.
Under the regulation signed by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the quarantine, which will restrict movement in significant parts of Northern Europe, including the cities of Milan and Venice, is to last through April 3. Subject to the quarantine are Lombardy as well as at least 14 provinces in adjacent administrative regions. The quarantine affects an estimated quarter of the country's population.
Schools, movie theaters, theaters and other entertainment establishments such as nightclubs and casinos are being closed throughout the country. Restaurants will remain open, however diners are recommended to keep their distance from other patrons.
The quarantine will be enforced by the police, rescue services and, if necessary, the Italian Armed Forces as well. Violators of the quarantine will be subject to either a fine or jail time.
Editor: Aili Vahtla