The light of the old world
The problems of the new
During a radio interview a few years back, I was described as a futurist, a title and concept I heartily reject (I mean, come on). Still, I do have one little prediction to make, based on a flying four-day visit to Italy in planes, trains, and automobiles: once this Coronavirus thing is fully behind us, I reckon the city of Venice is likely to be something of a tourist attraction.
My first visit, and oh, my god. What a place.
Also, you could not design a better plague city.
We were there well out of tourist season, but even so, there were a lot of people wandering about, and all those endless laneways and alleyways inevitably force you into close contact and I found myself wearing my mask much more often than I normally do outdoors.
If anything, on our experience, Italy is even more strict about Covid management than France.
Before we left, we had to fill out quite an extensive Digital Passenger Locator Form. In country, they use what they call the Green Pass, another app-based vax certificate, and it was nearly always asked for at any cafe or restaurant. Fortunately for us, they also accept the French Pass Sanitaire, so that saved us a lot of buggerising around.
You need a Green Pass for restaurants (indoor, not outdoor), museums, theatres, cinemas, gyms, swimming pools, spas, amusement parks, fairs, festivals and sports stadiums, but not hairdressers. All workers, public and private, are required to have the Pass (compulsory) and that includes teachers and staff at universities and schools. Uni students also need them, but school kids don’t.
On the train between Venice and Milan, they handed out a Health and Saftey Kit, which contained a spare mask, some hand gel, and a bottle of water.
Masks are compulsory indoors everywhere, including on public transport, but most of the big tourist venues (like the palaces, churches, museums) also take your temperature before letting you in (which doesn't happen in France).
Even in the cafe at the bus station in Milan, where we caught the bus back to Nice, they made you check in, and they used a device on the counter I haven’t seen anywhere else (it made for an efficient system).
Like France, compliance seems extraordinarily high, and I rarely saw someone who wasn’t masked up in those places that require it (but yes, dicknoses).
The inconvenience and intrusion are obvious, and worries about overreach and technological gaps apply, but I don’t see the viable alternative, not just in terms of managing the disease, but in terms of providing people with some assurance that it is safe to participate. I’m sure the more hairy-chested libertarian types will scoff at such concerns, but any government that didn’t take the matter seriously would be abrogating their duty.
As I’ve said before, beyond robust privacy controls, the biggest thing firms and governments can do to make all this, not only work, but to ensure support, is to make it as easy as possible. In practice this means not only more staff at venues, but the provision of phones to those who can’t afford them and even classes in how to use them for those who aren’t quite as technically knowledgeable. (My mum said to me the other day, as Sydney opened up, that she was having trouble figuring out the Medicare-NSW Services app connection. Fortunately, my brother is close-by and could help.)
Protests in Italy have been minimal though not absent entirely, as we saw in Milan.
All is quite different in Britain, apparently, where, despite the horrendous case numbers and deaths, people are reluctant to mask up on trains and the like. We go there for work towards the end of January, so will report then, with the added bonus of being able to speak the language!
Some photos to finish up. Stay well, everyone.
My heart… it’s just so ridiculously beautiful 😍
Winter visits to Venice are the best. For some light but progressive reading, I recommend Donna Leon’s detective novels - lots of Venice depths explored. (Hardly anyone is put away for the crime even when he knows they did it - viz your Mafia photo.)