Going home for the holidays during the COVID-19

  • Lucrezia in Toscana
  • Toscana, paesaggio
  • Toscana, scorcio
Published 2020-08-12 14:55

“The hardest thing was not being able to hug my grand-mother”. Lucrezia, an Italian expat living in Scotland managed to fly home for the holidays this summer. She tells us about how different visiting home in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis was.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Lucrezia Gaion, I am 25 years old and I was born and raised in Italy, in a town in the province of Treviso. My first significant experience abroad was during the fourth year of high school, when I went to the USA for the entire school year hosted by a local family. After returning to graduate, I left for the USA where I did my undergraduate. I now live and work in Edinburgh after earning a Masters degree from the University of St Andrews.

You returned to Italy, from Scotland, by plane: have you been subjected to any particular checks to be able to board? Did you have to take a COVID-19 screening test?

There was no type of control at Edinburgh airport. Masks weren't even mandatory. Most people wore it, but took it off when sitting at the gate.

What methods did you follow for check-in?

Nothing out of common. I bought the ticket, checked in online, checked in the suitcase at the counter and then headed to the gate. The only extra thing I had to do was complete a self-declaration to be delivered to the Italian authorities upon arrival.

Did you feel safe while traveling by plane? Did you wear a mask?

I felt relatively safe while traveling by plane, because the use of a mask was mandatory unlike the airport in Edinburgh.

Upon arrival in Italy, at the airport, how was the immigration check carried out?

Upon arrival, the floor was marked with adhesive to designate the safety distance. They checked my passport and self-declaration. The temperature was not measured for me, but it was the last flight of the day.

What impact has the coronavirus had on your holidays this year?

My fiancé and I (he is Belgian) had planned to go to Greece and then to Italy to visit my family. These plans have failed, and until the last one I was afraid of not being able to return to Italy. Luckily I was able to return for the month of July, and in addition to a few days in Tuscany in the car with my parents, I always stayed at home. So did my boyfriend in Belgium.

The lifestyle in Italy has changed compared to your previous stays. What are the most noticeable changes you have seen?

The main change is the use of masks, which one gets used to quickly. Personally, it doesn't change much for me to use them, and indeed, I feel safer if I am in an environment where people are aware of the risk. Obviously, another change is the lack of physicality that characterizes us as a people: no more handshakes or hugs. It was hard not to be able to hug my grandmother.

What is the atmosphere in the streets of your hometown right now? Do people respect health regulations to avoid coronavirus infections?

I noticed that the youngest people are also the most unconscious (I am thinking of discos in the seaside resorts). That said, I've hardly ever seen anyone enter closed places without a mask, and the vast majority of the population follows the rules of hygiene and safety.

In terms of civic sense and respect for the rules during this pandemic, do you notice any differences in behavior between Italians and Scots?

There has been a huge difference in how governments have decided to address the Covid situation. Although Italy has been deeply affected by the virus, the diligence of the population to contain the virus has yielded excellent results. In Scotland, masks have only become mandatory indoors since July 15, and schools reopen on August 18 without a mask. Furthermore, there have been a very low number of tests done in comparison to Italy. We'll see how it goes. They are two different ways of approaching a problem.

Did you have to go through special formalities such as a quarantine period when you returned to Scotland?

Upon returning, I did not have to do any kind of quarantine. I just had to fill out an online document with all my personal data, and I will have to notify the authorities if I develop symptoms of Covid.

What is the predominant mood that accompanied your stay in Italy?

At first, surreal. The emotion I felt when I saw my family at the airport was indescribable, especially considering the fact that my mother was a nurse in charge of the Covid ward. It was very difficult to leave this time. I hope to be able to come back soon.