Our team based in Italy and Spain reflect on living through lockdown – including bingo between the homes of Italian neighbours and reflections on the positives of ‘deprivation research’
Pierpaolo Penco, Country Manager Italy, is located in Lucca, Tuscany, Italy, where they have been lockdown since the 9th of March:
I’m at home, as requested by the Italian government.
Bars, restaurants, shopping malls, museums, theatres, many offices and factories, wineries (well, those open to the public) are closed. Only pharmacies, supermarkets (not on weekends) and small grocery stores remain open. When we do go out to the butcher or fruit shops, we must keep 1m away from each other and wait for our turn with rare patience.
We are in the days that scientists have indicated to us as the crucial ones to slow down and gradually stop the spread of the contagion which, if all goes well, should be resolved in a month or two.
Schools are closed for now, but soon we will re-open them remotely via online classes. Business meetings in person have been postponed, to a date yet to be determined, or replaced with conference calls and online meetings.
But in the meantime, we remain Italian: we videochat with friends and relatives, some people organise flash-mobs on their terraces to sing to everyone at the same time from their homes, and some neighbours have invented bingo to play at the window.
It also seems that there has been a growth in wine sales. Maybe we are resuming that all-Italian family habit of drinking a glass of wine paired with a nice plate of pasta, making meals a little more convivial than the haste that has accompanied us in recent decades.
Juan Park, Director for Spain and Chile, is located in Valladolid, Spain, where they have been on lockdown since the 15th of March:
In Spain the feeling is that we´re X days away from a big party. The party will be a celebration of things getting back to normal, being able to visit friends and relatives and move freely. People are anxious that we don´t know how long it will take, and in what shape we will be, but so far, we all understand that the effort everyone is taking is worth it. Streets are empty but there is a spirit of cooperation and togetherness despite this.
There is a research technique called ‘deprivation research’ where you remove something you take for granted in order to really understand what you value (it was applied in the context of milk research in the USA and consumers realised they really needed milk to eat cookies with at the end of the day for example). If this is a large ‘deprivation research’ exercise people will already have started realising the value of social contacts and freedom of movement, I trust that this will unite the country (for a few days at least) just as winning the World Cup did in 2010 did. The difference is that now, there will be more work to do and more to fix when things get back to ‘normal’.
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