I just sat down to write a blog post on some enthralling new point of law for our firm newsletter and realised that, at least at this point in time, nobody could really give a toss. So I wrote this instead.

As some of you may know, for some time now I have effectively been the European branch of Rankin – working remotely from Verona, Italy (see previous blog post here). Yes I’ve been in the heart of northern Italy (the epicentre of the outbreak) throughout this tragedy- and am still here. We are now entering our fourth week of lockdown, the cities are deserted and the empty eeriness in the streets is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

Having seen firsthand the path this country took over the past couple months from serious denial, to concern, to half measures, followed by pandemonium then serious lockdown, it saddens me to see other countries around the world (including Australia) taking what seems to be the exact same route and failing to heed the lessons learned by places like Italy who have unfortunately suffered the greatest and most rapid tolls.

Here, overwhelmed ICU’s, climbing death tolls and oddities such as churches being used as overflow mortuaries has become a commonplace part of the daily news-cycle. Doctors, nurses, paramedics as well as countless volunteer healthcare workers have displaced football stars to become the new national heroes, applauded from balconies and universally celebrated in song. The country has mobilised in a way not seen since war time and the recent showing of selfless solidarity among Italians is simultaneously heart wrenching and comforting.

From tearfully exhausted doctors begging between sobs for the public to stay in their homes to people passing groceries over the balconies of frail elderly neighbours and 8 year olds telephoning the emergency response departments to read them letters of thanks: the national mood seems now past the point of self-interested panic and arrived at a point of realisation that, unless everyone does their part, the crisis will endure longer than it needs to.  It now appears reports of people flouting social distancing rules are down, instances of panic buying are virtually non-existent and the surge in blood donations and volunteering is nothing short of extraordinary.

Having seen news reports in the past few weeks of Australians behaving, lets say, at less than their best, I’m desperately hoping that Australia can now skip the pandemonium and go straight to the solidarity phase. The recent bushfires more than proved we’re capable. If we as Australians are to learn nothing from the extraordinary mobilisation, containment response or treatment advances Italy has demonstrated in recent weeks, then I’m hoping we can at least learn this:

  1. Everyone has a part to play. Your part may be just to plonk your bum on the couch, stay put and watch Netflix, but it’s still a part.
  2. One person choosing not to respect the social distancing rules, in turn, robs others of that choice.
  3. Acts of kindness and understanding during a shared national crisis makes enduring that crisis less burdensome for everyone.

Here’s hoping that by reaching the recovery phase quicker, Italy can inspire other nations to remain calm, regain perspective and believe in the phrase which has now become Italy’s national call to calm and solidarity: #Andràtuttobene!

Joseph Carneli, Senior Associate