'It's like living in a movie': Louth mum-of-two describes being in lockdown in Italy

'It's like living in a movie': Louth mum-of-two describes being in lockdown in Italy

A Co. Louth mum-of-two who has been in lockdown in her Italian home for a week has described the situation as 'like living in a movie."

Grainne Connor is appealing to everyone to stay calm in the event of a similar lockdown in Ireland.

Originally from Monasterboice, she has been living in Sarnico on Lake Iseo - about an hour from Milan - with her husband Stuart and two daughters for the last seven years.

"We have been under complete house arrest for the last week now and can only leave the house for necessary journeys such as food shopping, the doctors, pharmacy and work," she said.

We also must carry a self-certification with us at all times to show the patrolling police and army that we have a valid reason to leave our home.

"It sounds scary and it is at times. It feels surreal, like we are living in a movie.

"I live in a village of about 10,000 people. The next village is a kilometer away and there are police at the border so you need a good reason and piece of paper to allow you access.

Italian Coronavirus Checkpoint
Italian Coronavirus Checkpoint

"You can get to the supermarket where you are given gloves to wear and everyone has a face mask. People here can't afford to stockpile so there is plenty on the shelves.

"When this all started, people did panic and buy a lot of pasta and vegetables but that calmed down after a few days. As soon as I get to the car, I sanitize my hands and then when I get home and bring in the shopping, I re-sanitize because you just can't be too careful.

"The schools are closed but the girls use the technology to keep in touch with friends and and they do online live video classes. The teachers are doing as much as they can to make this surreal situation a bit normal.

"Neighbours are checking in on neighbours and all internet and utility companies have stopped charging for the minute."

With the death toll rising in Italy, Grainne admitted that it does get a little overwhelming at times.

"Some days you do get a little bit anxious but you try not to let your head run away with it because if I panic, the family will panic.

"Almost 1100 people have lost their lives here in three weeks. These people were mams, dads, sisters, brothers and friends to others who loved them

"Many people are working themselves to the bone and putting themselves on the front line to keep the country going."

However Grainne said there are some benefits of being in lockdown

"You spend more time with your family because you can't go anywhere so there are more board games and more chats in general.

"We have fantastic friends who we keep in contact several times a day. However, we can't get to the hairdressers or beauticians so all the women will be grey and hairy in no time and will have to teach the partners how to put hair dye in," she joked.

In giving advice back home she said: "As you head into a similar lockdown situation at home in Ireland, I want to say we are almost four weeks into this and at first it does feel scary and completely overwhelming but, trust me, it will calm down. The shelves will be restocked. It's not forever and it's for a valid reason.

Stay at home please. Use the time to do something new. Learn a language, learn to cook, read, spend time with your family, play some board games but above all, stay safe and stay well.

"We are all in this together."

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