Masked Liberation

Phase 2 : Lockdown easing restrictions - Portraits of people in Milan

Masked Liberation

This year May 4 was the date all Italians were waiting for. The streets of Milan were alive once again with the voices and movements of its residents, filled also with the many photographers ready to witness the historic spectacle of the city slowly beginning to return to normality.

That most basic right that no one ever thought could be suspended, the right of free movement, was restored, albeit in a limited fashion.

The requirement to wear a face mask continued however. In the months that followed, masks were the source of constant discussions, sometimes heated, between those who defended unlimited freedom and their constitutional rights, and those who considered the mask requirement imposed by the authorities fair.  Lockdown easing restrictions Italy

On May 18 the real end of the lockdown began with the reopening of bars, restaurants, stores, and the productive sectors of the economy.

After more than two months of confinement, the Milanese were rediscovering the pleasure of their sacred ritual of stopping for an espresso in the bar before work.    Lockdown easing restrictions Italy

With the reopening, the clothes stores on the famous shopping street Corso Buenos Aires slashed their prices with discounts deeper than for the end-of-season sales. However, the public health restrictions still in place and the fears of spending money in the midst of uncertainty kept people from the stores. The inhabitants of Milan preferred instead to go to the park and ride bikes or skateboards to taste freedom, feel the sun, and replenish the Vitamin D they lost in the months of confinement.

“The coronavirus from a clinical point of view no longer exists”, stated Alberto Zangrillo, director of the prestigious San Raffaele hospital in Milan, becoming the spokesman for a school of thought to which other scientists adhered, in which the virus would weaken and would not produce a second wave.  

The June 11 decree of the Prime Minister also adhered to this theory, and took Italy down a path of liberation. The playgrounds and summer recreation centers were reopened, and the green light was given for cinemas, theaters and outdoor shows.

The culmination of this plan of liberation was the end of the mask mandate while outdoors.          Lockdown easing restrictions Italy

On June 3, the Milano Centrale, the main train station in Milan and a monument of fascist architecture, saw long lines of passengers with suitcases after many months of relative emptiness. Internal borders had been reopened, and Europe was reunified into a single zone within which its citizens could again travel freely.

On June 23, only 13 positive cases of Covid-19 were recorded in Italy, the lowest number since the beginning of the pandemic. On July 29, there were only 38 people in intensive care. The authorities believed that the worst was over, and relaxed restrictions on visiting the beaches in August.

The sparkling sea of August however was but a brilliant mirage. The second wave started in the fall, this time beginning in other countries like France. But in October it became an unwanted reality again in Italy as well. The outdoor mask requirement was imposed anew. What had been “masked liberation” became “masked lockdown” again.

Pablo Munini @ Milan , December 2020

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Lockdown easing restrictions Italy

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