New Normal Random Thoughts #1

Last week I got to Italy without too much trouble. There wasn’t a lot of people at the airport, all restaurants were closed, everything was happening slightly ahead of schedule. The flight was quick, everybody was wearing a mask for the entire duration of the flight “except for drinking and eating” (every time I heard the announcement I was tempted to ask “and what about smoking?”). The flight was probably around 60/70% full, the seat next to mine was empty, but I had people sitting right behind.

Sitting at 1A, I was the first one off the plane and through passport (and temperature) control. In all effects I was the very first international passenger to land in Trieste in three months. The flight was in the local news, but by the time a photographer showed up I was already at home sipping a glass of wine.

Things in Italy feel quite different from the UK. They started their lockdown ahead of all other Western countries. Shops, restaurants and other services have been open for almost a month and it looks like people are already used to the new normal.

We went to a couple of restaurants, supermarkets, various shops, even a car dealership, unlike the UK face masks are compulsory and people are just used to slip on their masks as soon as they enter (you can take off the mask once you are seated at your table in restaurants). There are sanitizer dispensers at the entrance of every establishment.

My much needed haircut was pretty straightforward: had to wear a disposable mask (except while trimming my beard), and the one tool they couldn’t use is a brush to remove hair, since those cannot be sterilised.

I decided to keep my hair long-ish (didn’t go back to my pre-covid length), apparently this has been the case for a lot of other people, some who had a chance to grow their hair longer for the first time.

According to my hairdresser, some people are also reluctant to go back to more formal fashion: they just got used to wearing tracksuits all the time and they are sticking with the comfortable option.

Buying fish on a Sunday morning.

Masks are yet another fashion item telling people something about yourself, and of course Italians are embracing it! It’s not only about what kind of masks (disposable, reusable, flat, shaped, cotton, linen, coloured, patterned, black, etc.), but also how you wear it: for example it looks like older people tend to wear it with their nose out, making them pretty much useless.

Then there’s the whole thing about where to keep your mask when you are not wearing it. Under your chin? Hanging from one ear? On your wrist? In your pocket? Everyone has a style.

That’s all for this update. Stay safe, be kind, keep in touch.