A Sunderland woman running B&B in Italy says country is finally winning virus battle

A former Sunderland woman has told how Italy is winning the war against coronavirus.

Monday, 29th June 2020, 4:45 pm
Sandra pictured on a shopping trip in her face mask.

Sandra Laws, who hails originally from Farringdon, has even had Government guidelines on how her bed and breakfast business can take customers once again in one of the most beautiful parts of the world

Sandra is now living in Cingoli in central Italy with husband Greg.

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Sandra and Greg pictured before the lockdown.

She said it was ‘heartbreaking to read how Sunderland and the North East has suffered so badly and hope that our Italian experiences of Covid-19 may inspire Echo readers to stay safe and protect their loved ones.’

Covid-19 positive cases and deaths are at zero on most days in the Le Marche region of Italy where Sandra and Greg live.

Sandra said Italians who were ‘renowned for ignoring rules’ began to follow them – and the message was reinforced by authorities at all levels.

“Italy has lots of police forces to enforce these laws with massive fines and even prison sentences for those who break the laws”, she said.

“The Italian authorities after initially perhaps getting things wrong have been pro-active in providing the right guidance, obtaining specialist medical help from countries such as Albania, Cuba, Qatar and Russia and rapidly developed systems to protect its Italian residents.

“Social distancing and the obligatory wearing of face masks, gloves combined with digital electronic methods to minimise social contact have also been introduced very quickly.

“Our region of Le Marche has almost returned to normal yet even now shops will only allow a small number of customers in at any one time and only then with customers wearing face mask, gloves or after washing their hands with anti-bactericidal hand washes.

“Chemists have the same rules and the other day before Greg could enter the chemists he had to have his forehead temperature checked remotely outside the entrance door before admittance.

“Visits to the doctors or hospital entail the completion of a detailed self-declaration form and stringent forehead temperature checks before entry.

“Results for routine checks are now electronically sent to patients and repeat prescriptions are obtained by telephone with subsequent delivery to a chemist.”

Anyone wanting to go to the doctors, council, and other places must book in advance.

She added: “Public transport has strict social distancing for passengers and drivers wear face masks.

“Bars and restaurants have now been open for some time yet staff and customers wear face masks, protective gloves and maintain social distancing.

“Tables are set to ensure this and yellow/black tapes on the floors remind customers to maintain social distancing. Our local bar firstly washes your table with an anti-bactericidal solution, covers the table with disposable paper cloth, drinks are served from a distance and your payment is also made at a distance.”

Cheap face masks are available because the Italian government set a maximum price of the equivalent of 0.5 Euros.

“The only shortage appears to be plastic disposable gloves, but even these are available at a price! Food and all other commodities are freely available,” Sandra told the Echo.

“Face masks and gloves must be worn in all areas where the public congregates such as shops, chemists, banks, town halls, libraries, garages and so on. In addition to standard medical type masks Italians renowned for innovative design now produce ‘designer masks’.

“Both of us feel relatively safe as the majority of locals follow the rules and are determined to win against the virus.”

Sandra added: “We have received lots of new laws and rules to ensure our bed and breakfast complies with Covid-19 precautions and include electronic guest registration; payment only with debit or credit card; special refuse containers for guest’s rubbish; social distancing and so on.

“Le Marche is one of the top 10 worldwide 2020 destinations in The Lonely Planet Guide and 47 new routes are planned for the regional airport of Ancona so we anticipate the return of tourists to this beautiful area with their assurance that Covid-19 safeguards are strictly enforced.

“We are now entering the holiday season for Italy and beaches too have to follow strict social distancing guidelines together with swimming pools and discos – I saw a clip showing an Italian disco with the dancers wearing face masks – couldn’t ever envisage me clubbing and even wearing a designer one in The Fusion, Annabel’s, The Rink, La Strada, Weatherills or Zhivagos!”

Italy has had more than 240,000 coronavirus cases and 34,738 deaths.

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