Tag Archives: 2month

Italy grapples with a new rhythm as it emerges from 2-month lockdown

Dario Triscar and Nertila Goga opened their new bistro in Milan on March 5 only to close just days later as the coronavirus pandemic swept into Italy.

In short order, they found themselves investing $ 1,200 Cdn (800 euros) in Plexiglas and spending much of their time in quarantine cutting and gluing barriers to line and surround their tables when the time would come to reopen. 

More than two months later, Triscari proudly overlooks the bistro’s outdoor patio, where people are dining al fresco.

“We entered a new reality, and we have to adapt,” he said. “When restaurants in Wuhan reopened, we went online to see what they were doing, and that’s where we got the Plexiglas idea.”

People stroll under Milan’s famed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele with their bikes. Some people say now is the time to make the city a visionary leader by changing its transportation flow and encouraging bicycle commuting. (Prospero Bozzo/CBC)

Italy, the first Western country to be ravaged by the novel coronavirus, has further eased its two-month-long lockdown, allowing everything from museums and libraries to sit-down dining and hairdressers to reopen.

With strict new safety regulations in place, businesses in Milan are grappling with radical changes to their operations in a city with entirely new rhythms, with staggered opening hours decreed by the government and many still remote working from home.

Some in Milan have seized this time as a chance to make strategic, forward-thinking changes to the city’s modes and flow of transportation. But others are struggling to adapt to new measures that they must implement because of COVID-19.

Together, but apart

What’s gone for now, said Triscari, is what Italians call la socialità — the everyday encounters among friends and strangers tipping back a morning espresso pressed against a café counter or crowding around a table with bright orange Aperol spritzes after work.

Contractor Francesco Vigorita, 28, digs into an antipasto of calamari and potato across a Plexiglas shield from his father, Pino.

“What more can you do?” Francesco said, shrugging. “It’s not the same, and I miss seeing friends in groups, but for now, this is how it is.”

Restauranteur Sandra Zini, right, says she will wait to reopen her family’s bistro because its staff of five cannot handle all the new safety measures put in place.

For some, however, the transition to the new normal has been nothing short of defeating.

Sandra Zini, who with her mother and brother run Il Tronco, a restaurant that’s been in their family since 1933, have not yet reopened. They say the post-lockdown regulations are too complicated.

“Normally, we seat 50 clients. Now with social distancing, 16,” she said, gesturing to the widely spaced tables, which by law have to ensure diners who are not related sit a minimum one metre distance from each other.

Embracing change while upholding tradition

For Zini, that means taking the temperatures of staff members and clients, recording the name and phone number of every diner to allow for tracing in case of contagion, sanitizing the washroom each time someone uses it, and patrolling the social distance between clients.

It’s simply too much for her staff of five to handle.

“It’s a nightmare,” she said.

The tension between embracing change and upholding tradition is palpable on the streets of Milan.

A decade ago, when the city moved to reduce smog, the linchpin to its sustainability plan was increasing use of public transit. Now, with a 30 per cent cap on transit capacity because of social distancing requirements, the city is boosting other alternatives to private cars: bicycles, electric scooters, mopeds and vehicle sharing. 

WATCH | Coun. Marco Granelli cycles in one of Milan’s new bike lanes

Milan city councillor Marco Granelli cycles along a stretch of the 35 km/h new bike paths laid in Milan to help reduce pressure on public transit. (Credit Megan Williams) 0:15

As Milan Coun. Marco Granelli shows off a traffic lane freshly converted into a bike path, pedestrian walkway, moped parking and spaces for vehicles to offload goods, taxi drivers across the street lean against their cars and glare, gesticulating and shouting the odd muffled expletive.

“It’s created a little debate in the city,” Granelli chuckled.

He said vehicle sharing is up 65 per cent, thanks in part to a government incentive that reimburses 60 per cent of the cost of a new bike or electric scooter and use of sharing schemes. Cycling, as a percentage of the means of transport, has risen to 30 per cent post-lockdown from 10 per cent pre-lockdown.

People in Milan line up to buy new bikes. The government is providing coupons of up to $ 750 for bicycle purchases to discourage people from driving. (Prospero Bozzo/CBC)

“Our main concern is laying down enough bike paths so that when students return in September, our city will be ready,” said Granelli.

To further prepare, Milan will start running its buses and trains with peak frequency to create as much space as possible and its subway is developing a software system to automatically block entrance turnstiles once a station reaches its passenger limit.

Opportunity for visionary thinking

But the biggest challenge long term will be replacing the revenue from the loss in ticket and monthly pass sales that covered half of the cost of running Milan’s transit system. The city is turning to the European Union  to help cover the loss and invest heavily in more regional commuter and subway lines.

Renowned architect and urban thinker Patricia Viel says now is the time to explore ways that Milan can lead the world as a visionary city by banning most cars and widening sidewalks. (Prospero Bozzo/CBC)

Milan’s approach is seen as forward-thinking by other major cities, but many here would like the city to go even further.

“We as Milanese believe this is a great opportunity for this city,” said renowned Milan architect and urban thinker Patricia Viel.

She said the major opportunity is revisioning Milan, turning it into a slow-moving, polycentric, open urban space. She wants Milan to ban most cars, enact a speed limit throughout of 30 km/h, widen sidewalks and do away with bike lanes entirely, placing the obligation on the few cars that need to access the centre to follow the rhythm of pedestrians and cyclists.

A cyclist has his temperature checked at the entrance of Idroscalo artificial lake in Milan on Saturday. Temperature checks are one of the measures put in place as Italy eases some of its lockdown measures. (Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters)

“We need to educate people to share spaces in the urban environment,” Viel said. “To make them bigger, easier to use and safe. That means you have to be slow, but not by dividing. We really need to share more.”

She also sees lockdown as having shifted people’s relationship to time.

Gone for many, she said, is the unquestioned acceptance that days must follow a predetermined pattern around work.

“This is over,” said Viel. “Now we understand what it means to design our own day … and companies have learned to trust” remote working.

New working hours and locations

How work is restructured will be the cornerstone in any plan to keep infections down in a region where one in seven people have had the virus and half of Italy’s 33,000 COVID-19 deaths have occurred.

Already, Milan’s city hall is working with companies to increase remote working by urging them to have people work from home at least two days a week and stagger work hours. Hairdressers and hardware stores, for instance, are among many now obliged to open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m..

Along with frontline healthcare workers, more than 200 of whom died in Italy during the pandemic, safety is of utmost concern for professions that involve physical contact with others, such as hair dresses, barbers and beauticians.

WATCH | The ‘new normal’ in an Italian spa

Beautician Margherita Bordo takes a client’s temperature in her small spa. ‘It’s time for word to spread that it’s safe to come here,’ she said. 2:55

In her small spa in the north of the city, Margherita Bordo aims a purple plastic gun-like object at the forehead of a client to measure her temperature.

In addition to checking clients for fevers and recording their phone numbers, Bordo has also installed Plexiglas barriers, set up wooden partitions around treatment chairs (cleverly camouflaged as product display cases) and installed an air purifying system — the latter not required, but “to give clients extra assurance.”

“It will take time for word to spread that it’s safe to come here,” said Bordo, who along with a loss in income, has invested several thousand dollars in the safety measures. “But I’m optimistic. As long as we don’t get a second wave of infections.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | World News

A 2-month wait to fix his 2 front teeth: The problem with the Ontario seniors dental program

A 73-year-old Windsorite is worried he might lose some of his teeth while he waits to be seen by a government-funded dentist.

The Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP) allows low-income seniors to visit a dentist for free, but the paperwork and few approved dentists mean there’s a lengthy wait. The program was announced in June 2019 but only launched the application system at the end of November.

For Rogers Villeford, he’s already spent six months with bleeding gums — and just last week another filling fell out. 

“I’ve had this for about six months … every day I bleed,” said Villeford. “I take mouthwash and keep it in there awhile and swish it … every morning I spit out blood.” 

Villeford’s income is about $ 18,000 a year. He was accepted into the OSDCP, but the appointment he was given is nearly two months away. 

“What good are [the dentists] if you have to wait?” said Villeford.

Locally the OSDCP is run by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. According to the director of health promotion, dentists under the program started seeing patients two weeks ago. 

“Our first senior seen under the program was January 6,” said Nicole Dupuis. 

Dupuis said so far the program has seen about 15 patients, with another 46 appointments already booked. Appointment bookings are as far away as March.

Nicole Dupuis, director of health promotion with the Windsor Essex County Health Unit says so far the program has seen about 15 patients, with another 46 appointments already booked. (Amy Dodge/CBC)

According to Dupuis it takes about one month between filling out the application to receiving a card that gives you access to the program. After the card comes in, seniors can book an appointment — but the first appointment is typically just a consultation. 

“We’ll have more appointment times going forward,” said Dupuis. “We have had a wait list in our clinics … a month is actually not too bad. We hope it won’t get too much longer beyond that time frame.”

Villeford decided he can’t wait that long, so he made an appointment with a dentist — but he’ll have to pay out of pocket for his treatment. 

“I don’t want to lose my two front teeth,” said Villeford, who expects to spend about $ 500 on the visit. “It’s a sham.”

Similar to the Healthy Smiles Ontario program, there is an emergency service that might be available for people who need immediate treatment. To get emergency dental care, seniors would have to fill out a form signed by their medical provider that states they need treatment right away. 

Villeford said the WECHU gave him an emergency appointment for Tuesday, but it won’t include any work like fillings. Instead it will be to address what the health unit might consider are more serious problems.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Health News