Doomsday Parties As Teens Locked Down In Coronavirus 'Red Zones'
There was a festival feeling next to the train tracks in the red zone town of San Fiorano in Italy as teenagers gathered with their music blaring.
It could have been a scene in any other park in the country, only this is one of Italy's eleven small towns placed under quarantine in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Over the weekend the head of Italy's Civil Protection Agency said the cumulative number of confirmed cases of the virus in the country had jumped from 1,128 to 1,694 in the worst such contagion in Europe.
As the train speeds past along the track, it is almost the only contact the teenagers have with the outside world. They do not wear masks, but whizz around on bicycles performing tricks, tired of being locked up.
In nearby Codogno 'Radio Sange' presenters are asking "which red zone is the coolest?"
The online station has become an outlet to distract from the boredom of quarantine.
"Shall we decide who has the coolest red zone?" asks a presenter.
"Should we hold it between Casale and Codogno?" another presenter asks, pitting two neighbouring towns against each other.
At other times in the quarantine zone, it is as though everyone has left. Even the church is closed now in San Fiorano and no-one is seen out on the streets on a miserable rainy Sunday.
"Some shops are beginning to reopen but there is always the obligation to wear gloves and a (protective) mask and only two people can enter at a time," explains 35-year-old teacher Marzio Toniolom, who has been taking a video and picture diary of his eleven days in quarantine.
"These days, with no car passing in the street, many people would be walking in this street but today with the bad weather now streets are even more empty than usual," he said.
But behind closed doors and in the evenings, things change.
In Toniolo's house, the family gets together to make ravioli with grandmother Ines Prandini, 85, teaching two-year-old daughter Bianca how it is done. The family stops for a quick toast, clinking glasses with each other when the job is done.
At night at the bus stop in Codogno, groups of people meet up, everyone brings something different. Someone will bring cheese, someone bread, others wine. An impromptu street party takes place with no one wearing masks, they seem to be a thing of the past.
Inhabitants are concerned about how they will be viewed once their quarantine is over, Toniolo says in his video diary.
"Another aspect not to underestimate is we fear there could be racist feelings towards the inhabitants who come from these (red) zones," Toniolo said.
"There has already been something like this in Italy and there's a fear that this could not only be repeated but also become worse," he said.
Toniolo voiced his concerns that businesses would never be able to get back on their feet once the red zone gained its freedom.
"..these zones are not popular with tourists and I think it will be difficult for the businesses to restart in a place that now is identified as the place where the coronavirus started in Europe and the western world," he said gravely.