When in Rome, do what Romans do: don't talk about Coronavirus. That sounds absurd but a bar in Rome has strictly prohibited talking about the virus or COVID-19 disease with hand-written posters indicating that. By this, the small bar in the outskirts of Rome wants to give its customers a brief respite from the global pandemic that has already killed over a million people.
The bar, named Feeling, wants customers to take their minds off the global crisis for some time when they drink their coffee. At the entrance of the bar, a hand-written poster welcomes customers, saying "all talk about coronavirus, virology or lockdowns strictly prohibited."
"We've been talking about the same thing for months, so we chose to lighten the atmosphere," Cristina Mattioli, manager of the bar, told AFP.
No Virus Talk
Italy was the first European country and the third country in the world to be hit by the novel Coronavirus pandemic. With surging cases, hospitalization and mounting deaths, a strict lockdown was imposed to curb the spread of the virus. In May after the restrictions were eased, tourists from European nations started to come back but Italy had to reimpose lockdown measures with surging cases.
The country is currently facing a second wave of the virus with over 30,000 daily new cases of COVID-19. It has already reported 1.35 million total cases with more than 49,000 dead. Despite mounting deaths and lives devastated, many have opposed strict lockdowns again. The bar is also among thousands that have been hit hard by the lockdown with business plummeting.
However, Mattioli said it was not about saving the business or opposing lockdowns. Rather it is all about giving yourself a break. "It's not at all about denial, or not understanding the difficulty of what the world is going through, but just about giving yourself a break," Mattioli said.
'A Great Idea'
The regular customers of the bar appear to welcome the idea. For them, Covid fatigue is real and would want to talk about anything but the pandemic.
"We're fed up with talking about Covid, we can't take it anymore, everywhere we go we only talk about Covid. I'm happy to talk about anything except that, I'd rather talk about the weather or celebrities," said 58-year-old Bruna Piazza, who visits the bar regularly.
While during a pandemic and its economic fallout, all talks are mostly related to lives that are being affected by it, Mattioli has put up a second poster with ideas of conversation that includes culture and history. "It's a wise initiative, I would even say indispensable. You have to stop talking about it, you have to solve the problem, not talk about it," said Maurizio Ciocari, a hairdresser by profession who is also a regular.
So, what happens if you break the rules? Will you be banned from entering the bar? Mattioli says she has no plans to do so but rule-breakers will be directed toward the posters. Her idea has inspired another cafe in Trentino, Italy to put up similar posters. "Another cafe manager in Trentino has also made similar posters, although she asked my permission first," a proud Mattioli added.