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Corona stories: Beverley Luckings on life under lockdown in Italy
Beverley Luckings, the independent PR whose clients include Rankin and production companies Graft and Rankin Films, divides her time between London and Italy, where she lives with her husband and son. She was working at the fashion shows in Milan when the extent of the Covid-19 crisis in Italy started to become evident. She has been in complete lockdown at her home in the Marche region of eastern side of Italy for nearly three weeks.
We spoke to Beverley at the end of last week about her experience under lockdown in a country that has faced the worst of the effects of the coronovirus, and taken the necessary stringent measures in combating the pandemic at least two weeks before the UK.
I feel like I'm under house arrest.
Pn: Where are you exactly, and how has your lockdown situation evolved over the past few weeks?
BL: I am currently in a lockdown and stuck in the Marche area of Italy, with my husband and son, and we have been so now for 18 days. This is a very strange time when the whole world is at a standstill - country by country, day by day.
In the beginning when things started to change here in Italy, I was in both Milan and Venice for work and did think that people were overreacting to the coronavirus threat. They were panic buying masks, gloves and hand sanitizers, etc. Within a matter of days I quickly understood from the news reports that this was taking hold of Italy rapidly, and the fatalities starting being announced day on day and were ever increasing.
A friend of my husband’s father passed away from the virus - and suddenly it hit home.
When the national lockdown was announced it was indeed a scary moment. A friend of my husband’s father passed away from the virus near to where we are based, and suddenly it hit home that this virus was everywhere. And as people travelled from high hit areas to other regions the virus followed them.
What is your current situation? What is your daily routine?
The current situation is one of fear here. Day after day the death rates rise and I wonder when it will reach its peak and when they will find vaccines and solutions to stop the pandemic! I have to say unlike what seems to be happening back home in the UK, the Italians have taken this very seriously indeed, and with a bit of help from the police people really are staying home and respecting the curfews with real grace.
Before you were allowed to go out for a walk keeping the social distance of 1m. But as too many people were doing this it is now only permitted to walk to the end of your road with masks (at least here in the Marche). You are also permitted to go to the local food store or pharmacy and if you have a valid reason to travel beyond your domicile area (eg you have to go your place of work). There are police on the streets and you have to carry a special form that says who you are and why you have left your house. We have no idea when we can leave and when the curfew is likely to end - some say the beginning of April, some say June.
Although I'm indoors all day I dress up as if I were going to a work place, so I feel mentally at work and engaged.
My daily routine is to do some home exercise to keep my mind and body strong. Then even though I'm indoors all day I dress up as if I were going to a work place, so I feel mentally at work and engaged. Then the next thing is carving out space in the house for us to all work. My husband is home working too because of the virus, and my son is home schooling and we all need space and places to concentrate in and to be able to talk if we need to.
I find the evenings hard as I feel restless, but I try to do calming things like participating in online tuition courses, read or do the millions of things you say, I wish I had time to do…
How is it affecting your work life?
In a big way. I mean I can still work from where I am but have no idea when I can make it back safely and without risk to the UK. Clients are also losing work and things are at a standstill, and so it all has a domino effect on the work I do for them. Nobody can plan or assure you of anything. The world is very unstable in this moment and I am finding myself living for the day.
There is a positive to all this though. The world as we knew it needed reevaluation. It is time to rethink the way in which we have all been living and consuming and dying. Abusing the planet and each other. I'm doing some voluntary support with Extinction Rebellion right now and learning that post-Coronavirus we should not be turning the clock back, but instead learn from this experience - evolve, embrace and create a regenerative future. This is keeping me powerful.
I try to appreciate that whilst most of us are housebound, we are giving the planet the break.
What is the worst part, that you're finding most difficult?
I feel like I am on house arrest. I am by nature a really social person, and the fact that I cannot leave my current abode without risking to be fined, infected or arrested is really hard to deal with on a daily basis. It makes me crave to go for the longest walk and to be outside for a long period of time, meet a friend for a drink, etc.
Knowing you are trapped and cannot leave is hard emotionally and mentally. Sometimes I really feel like my head is being starved of oxygen and it is hard to think straight and with clarity.
Any tips on things that have worked for you in terms of being stuck at home all the time? Recommendations on doing stuff? And what have you been watching?
Keep busy. Do things that give you strength both mentally and physically. I made a list of things I have always really wanted to do but time was never in my favour to do them, and I now I can tick them off. I also try to appreciate that whilst most of us are housebound, we are giving the planet the break it needed to repair, which gives me sense of calm and knowing that this sacrifice is needed.
I take breaks from the computer to take a breath of air... and change rooms where I'm working during the day...
Try to keep your usual routine somehow, but just be aware you will have to do these things (some of them at least) in a limited space. I also take breaks from the computer to take a breath of air on the balcony, and that helps to know that I will be in the same space for most of the day and week. I also change rooms where I am working during the day to add change.
Finally, I have noticed since the corona outbreak that everyone is more caring and social. I am talking to my friends via Zoom calls and FaceTime more than I ever did. We are all much more in touch and more often, which is a beautiful thing. I have been watching old cult movies and documentaries that I had also saved up for the day when I had nothing to do which pre-coronavirus seemed to be never!
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