Among the countries worst-hit by the pandemic is Italy.
As of 21 November 2020, it has 1,345,767 cases with 48,569 deaths. In terms of number of cases, the country is in the top five in Europe, which is led by France. In terms of death toll, it ranks second in the continent following the United Kingdom.
Italian authorities have categorized the intensity level of the pandemic according to colors, with red as the least affected, orange as moderately affected and yellow as seriously affected. Red zones have least restrictive controls with only partial lockdown for grocery stores, pharmacies, newsstands and other shops
But one Italian businesswoman has upstaged the red zone category by figuring out a way to stop the virus from its track ahead of the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
At Cristina Mattioli’s Feeling bar on the outskirts of Rome, a pandemic-free atmosphere pervades as concern about the virus are farthest from its patrons’ mind. In fact, customers deem the virus as non-existent, with only hand sanitizers and a few diners wearing masks as reminders of the lurking disease.
Clients would be heard talking about history and culture or something else that has nothing to do with the pandemic.
The topics are on a list printed in posters displayed inside the bar. Customers have to pick from the list unless they have something in mind to talk about that is not pandemic-related.
Those straying from the topics and mentioning even the COVID-19 vaccine are reminded by the 35-year-old bar owner to change the topic and refer to the poster for conversation ideas.
“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, according to AFP.
Feeling is no longer the only “virus-free” bar in Italy. In Trentino cafe located north of the country, “virus” won’t come out in any of its patron’s mouth. That’s because its owner has asked permission to copy Mattioli’s poster of topics for display in the cafe.