Inside the Red Zone: An Interview From Italy During COVID-19 Lockdown

(By Samantha Biggers) Since COVID-19 appeared in the news, I have paid even more attention to some of the preparedness forums and social media groups that I am part of. People have a lot of questions about preparedness and I have been making an effort to help them figure things out whenever possible.

In one group I saw a picture where a fellow was showing what he had bought to prepare himself and his family when the first cases in Italy appeared in his area. I private messaged my thoughts on what he had procured and sent some links to articles at Backdoor Survival. This was the beginning of a conversation that has kept going as the crisis has escalated in Italy.

A Brief Time Line Of COVID-19 In Italy

In order to see how the virus progressed, I have recreated a brief timeline of Covid-19 spread in Italy. After doing this research it is clear that it follows what Chris Martenson over at Peak Prosperity has been telling us for ages. With an outbreak like this, it goes, cluster, cluster, cluster, and then BOOM.

January 30, 2020- Two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Italy reported among Chinese tourists. All flights to China are suspended.

February 24, 2020- Total confirmed cases 229 and 6 fatalities.

March 8: 16 million people under lockdown in the red zone. Confirmed cases jump 1,300 and total 6, 387 and deaths rise from 133 to 366.

March 9: All of Italy is on lockdown. Quarantines are being enforced and those that break it are subject to criminal charges.

Prisons are the scene of many riots after prisoners learn that they will not be allowed visitors. They are fearful that they will have no protection from the virus and no help.

My friend wanted to tell his story to others so that they could be better prepared and understand the truth of what the people of Italy are dealing with. I offered to help him with this. I sent him some interview questions and told him to add anything he thought we should know. He has chosen to not give his real name or exact location within the red zone.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live in Italy? Age? Occupation? Do you live alone or with others?

I live in Italy, 25 years old and I live with my parents.

Are you staying entirely at home? Are you allowed to leave your home at all?

At the moment, we are called to stay at home. People can go and walk outside, bars are open from 9 am to 6 pm but people have to maintain 1 meter minimum of distance. A crowd outside and inside is forbidden. For using a car inside and outside the territories a permit is needed: only for work and medical reasons one can move, otherwise, it is strictly forbidden.

Do you know anyone that has the virus or has recovered?

Luckily no. I hope no one will get it.

How is the community dealing with this? Are people helping each other at all?

There is fear and also a lack of civic sense. I am glad for the new restrictions, at a certain point, if the people are not able to guard themselves by themselves then the State has every right to force people to stay inside. I am thankful for the job of our doctors, army, and police.

Are people in your area observing the quarantine or are they sneaking out?

We have had cases of people sneaking out, people escaping from Milan to reach to their original regions and families a few hours before the “Red Zone” was declared. We are Italians after all, we are known to be social, touchy and family-oriented; isolation is something we never think about.

Still, this is no excuse to not observe quarantine. I am using this time to cherish my relationship with my family and re-discover the value of time and relationships. I can always play games with my PS4 or read books.

What is the punishment or fine for breaking quarantine? Have you known anyone to get punished for this?

Yes, there are jail terms for those breaking quarantine. 3 Months, or even years if the person is infected and causes deaths. It would be treated like a case of homicide.

Is there a lot of civil unrest?

Currently, we are dealing with 27 cases of jail riots, 6 inmates have died, police officers have been taken as hostages and 20 even managed to escape from Foggia Penitentiary. Also, markets are being assaulted and we had cases of racism towards Asian people. I witnessed it just in my street with a man shouting horrible things to a Chinese woman.

I am so angry, as I worked in a Chinese restaurant and have many Italian friends of Asian origin and their fear is legit. This is what I fear, civil unrest, that is I not only have to protect myself and my family from COVID-19 but also from other people.

I have witnessed just today that vegetables and fruit shelves were almost empty, yet canned food was not. Perhaps Italians are not very keen on preparation and keep buying fresh food which is great, but perishable. We’re not relying on delivery right now, but I wonder what will happen when the pandemic will be declared.

I will not thank my American friends enough for their suggestions and support, you guys are so into preparedness, while we are still thinking about fresh tomatoes for our pasta. TBH, I would not mind buying canned ravioli, unfortunately, we do not have such food, although it would come handy.

How is your government handling this? Do you feel like they are doing what they can? Do you think they are hiding a lot from the citizens?

Nice question. Let me tell you our situation: we lack doctors, we lack places in hospitals, and people managed to escape from the quarantine. I have relatives who work as medical personnel and they are going crazy with exhausting shifts.

Our government could have done better and we feel abandoned. A woman died at home yesterday after waiting a day for the test kit that was forced on her by her brother, Luca Franzese from Naples.

She was epileptic, yet he had to perform the mouth-to-mouth breath to let her stay alive. She later tested positive for COVID-19.

Are the numbers of infected and the total fatalities that you see being reported by the American media and WHO fairly accurate in your opinion? Does it seem that more men are infected or dying than women?

Yes, they are pretty accurate. There are also few sites collecting precise information about each country, even on YouTube.

Have you seen an increase in racism since COVID-19 cases started appearing?

As said before, yes, we have had an escalation of crimes related to racism against our fellow citizens of Asian origin.

Yeah, luckily we are passionate about making our things at home, especially bread and pasta and care for our plants.

What is a typical day like now that the virus has infected so many?

Almost empty streets, but you can still see people going outside, at least for work or to grab a coffee. I have seen some footage from Milan, and I never witnessed such scenes.

Imagine New York with just 3 or 4 cars moving and very few people outside.

What are you doing to keep your mind healthy? Are you exercising at home or anything like that?

Usually, I would wake up early, pull out my rug and pray, then workout. Then what more, listening to the news, help mom with home cleaning and looking outside onto the streets.

I am an introvert, so I am actually enjoying my time at home. But I will surely miss my time at the gym and friends, but at least I am with my family.

I am curious to know how people are talking about COVID-19 with their children. How are the kids doing?

Interesting question. There are parents and educators who do not want to scare their kids. They teach them to wash their hands as often as possible and to not touch things. But on the other hand we have witnessed parks with many children inside playing, this is not safe for them. Again, this is Italy, so go figure…

What advice do you have for the people of the United States? Our case numbers are rising but some still are of the belief that this is similar to the flu. What do you have to say regarding that?

Guys, this is no joke. Think not only about the seriousness of the virus but also about the social and economical frame surrounding it.

Our countries are not prepared for a pandemic, and when we lack medical personnel and places, who is going to care for us? Are we going to sacrifice the oldest ones to save the younger that have a greater chance of healing and recovering?

Do not be selfish, do not spread the risk of getting the virus and stay home.

This mess is happening in a nation of the so-called “1st World”! It is Europe 2020, not a place under war or else. A healthy country after all, yet all the nation has just become a one, big Red Zone with restrictions.

No more soccer games, no more theater, cinema, nightlife, all churches, mosques, temples closed. Even the Vatican has cases of Coronavirus!

I also have friends who have lost relatives in this battle against the virus.

So please, I beg you all, be mindful. The situation is critical, it could happen to your own state, county, city, or family. You can see fear and anger in our eyes. Please, be responsible.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Just that I am praying God every day for us all and I hope things to get better as soon as possible. Hope that my testimony will be a sign for other people to wake up. And I am not saying that we have to panic but to treat this thing with seriousness and act accordingly.

Thank you so much for the interview and for your support. Hugs and kisses from Italy, ciao belli!

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Italy


About the Author: Samantha Biggers lives on a mountain in North Carolina with her husband, Matthew, in a house they built. They have a small steep slope vineyard, raise sheep, and grow gourmet mushrooms. Since 2017 she has been proud to write for Backdoor Survival.   Samantha learned the foundation of preparedness on the banks of the Skagit River in the North Cascades of Washington State while being raised by a single father who saw heavy combat in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. At 16 she moved with her dad to his home state of North Carolina where she worked on some farm projects before attending Warren Wilson College and graduating with a degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Sustainable Forestry. After college, she and her future husband spend a few years in Ketchikan, Alaska before returning to North Carolina and moving into a small 1970s Holiday Rambler camper on 11 acres of family land given to her by her father. This is when the adventure of building a house and farming began! Over the years her articles have appeared in various homesteading magazines such as GRIT, Back Home, Backwoods Home, and Countryside and Small Stock Journal. Her writing can also be found on Lew Rockwell and The Organic Prepper. Her husband, Matthew Biggers takes all the original pictures used in her articles and occasionally writes a few himself! While writing for Backdoor Survival, Samantha became friends with the original founder, Gaye Levy. They discovered they had a lot in common, including being born and raised in the same area.  They talk often about prepping and life in general.  Although Gaye has moved on to writing and managing her site, Strategic Living, she continues to offer more support than she realizes! Gaye no longer writes or owns Backdoor Survival but you can find many of her posts still on the site today. Education: Samantha was homeschooled starting in the 7th grade. After graduating from Freedom Christian Academy, a through the mail homeschool based in Kentucky, she was accepted and attended Warren Wilson College located in beautiful Swannanoa, NC. Warren Wilson is a work college with only 800 students. While there she worked on a variety of work crews but spent the most time on the Natural Resources Crew (NRC). The crew was responsible for maintaining many miles of trails, running an on site sawmill, providing the school and faculty with firewood, and managing 650 acres of Appalachian forest. Other duties included growing and selling Shiitake mushrooms grown on logs harvested from the college forest. She graduated from Warren Wilson College in 2005 with a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Studies with a Concentration in Sustainable Forestry. Interviews: Homesteading and Preparedness With Samantha Biggers of Backdoor Survival, The Prepper Website Podcast An Inside Look At Bulletproof Backpacks, ABC Amarillo How To Prepare Your Emergency Survival Kit, Healthline Articles For Other Publications: Forest Management For The Farm, GRIT Magazine January/February 2013 Raising Dairy Calves For Meat, Countryside and Small Stock Journal Canning Chickens For The Pantry, Backwoods Home Magazine, May/June 2012 Samantha Biggers can be reached at