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People singing on their balconies in Milan during coronavirus lockdown.
People singing on their balconies in Milan during coronavirus lockdown.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

'It's a bit of solidarity but it's also a bit of craic': Irish in Italy connect through Whatsapp during lockdown

Italy has been on lockdown since Monday to try stem the spread of coronavirus.
Mar 14th 2020, 5:05 PM 49,524 23

IRISH PEOPLE LIVING in Italy are connecting through Facebook and Whatsapp groups as unprecedented measures continue in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

Twenty-eight-year-old Irishman Adam Fulham is one of thousands of Irish people affected by the country’s total lockdown and, in an effort to boost morale, has set up an ‘Irish in Italy’ Facebook page and Whatsapp group. 

“It’s a bad moment obviously but everyone’s pulling together,” Fulham, who lives in Turin in northern Italy, told TheJournal.ie

On Monday, the Italian government limited citizens’ movements in an attempt to fight the worst outbreak of Covid-19 outside China, where the virus originated at the end of last year.

Vast swathes of the economy have been shut down, people have been instructed to leave their homes only when strictly necessary, and all cultural events have also been suspended.

Fulham, who has lived in Turin since November 2019, says he set up the Facebook page and Whatsapp group to connect Irish people living in Italy who are feeling isolated. 

“It’s a bit of solidarity, but it’s also a bit of craic,” says Fulham, adding that over 100 Irish living in Italy have joined the Facebook page with over 50 people now chatting, posting photos and providing information through Whatsapp. 

“We’re making lots of jokes in the group but you have to at times like these, says Fulham, who set up ‘Irish in Italy’ three days ago. 

The atmosphere in Turin, he says, “is so weird”. 

Before the lockdown came into effect life was different but continued as normal for the most part, despite restrictions, Fulham said. 

“Now if I leave my apartment I’ve to bring a permission slip. I left last night to go to the supermarket and there was no one on the streets,” said Fulham. 

At the supermaket, said Fulham, people were standing one to two metres apart as they queued to pay for food. 

Turin is located just over two hours from Codogno where Italy’s first case of Covid-19 was confirmed. 

From there, the virus spread to other parts of northern Italy. There are now over 17,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country. 

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In recent days, efforts to boost morale have been shared on social media including people singing from their windows with their neighbours.

Videos of the phenomenon have gone viral on social media, showing residents from Milan to Sicily sing to each other and playing instruments in unison through windows and across courtyards.

In Turin, Fulham says that at midday today people started spontaneously clapping from windows and that at 6pm today people will gather on their balconies to sing in solidarity. 

Fulham says ‘Irish in Italy’ has already had a number of people join who have lived in Italy for many years. 

“Some are here 20 years, 30 years and they’ve never connected with Irish people,” he said. “Everyone’s coming together in solidarity. 

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