Stir-crazy Italians ask, who will we be allowed to visit now?

Tribune Content Agency

While stir-crazy Italians are excited to see the rules governing their country’s two-month lockdown ease off — slightly — starting on Monday, many are asking just who they’ll now be allowed to see.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte made waves earlier this week when he said new rules would permit visits to “congiunti,” a vague, formal term that can mean anything from close family, to distant relatives to people with whom you have a close relationship.

The new freedoms “don’t mean going to friends’ homes or throwing parties,” Conte said later, seeking to put an end to growing confusion over the topic. “You’ll be able to visit relatives and people with whom you have steady relationships of affection.”

But the premier’s comments only created more uncertainty, sparking a wave of social media debate and trending memes: One showed police stopping citizens and asking, “How serious is your relationship?” The government now says it will clarify further before Monday.

To date, movement in Italy has been tightly limited: medical visits, grocery shopping, urgent work-related matters. While the so-called phase 2 will offer some relaxation of those strictures, Italians won’t yet be allowed to leave their home regions.

Conte has been under pressure for weeks to relax containment measures. Rival politicians, both in the opposition led by the League’s Matteo Salvini and within the ruling coalition, have fanned the flames, noting growing impatience among businesses and citizens.

Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, whose small Italy Alive party is part of Conte’s coalition, said on Twitter it shouldn’t be up to the government to decide who people can meet. “I can go and visit my girlfriend if it’s a steady relationship, otherwise no?” the ex-premier cracked. “That’s crazy, this must be a mistake.”

Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri on Wednesday sought to clarify further, saying on state Rai radio that even friends can be considered “stable relationships of affection.”

“Guys, confirmation has arrived from (the government’s) Palazzo Chigi,” one social media user quipped. “For ‘congiunti,’ they’ll use your list of close friends on Instagram.”


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