The number of coronavirus cases is slowly sinking in Italy, but the country is now facing the next phase of a serious crisis: how to kickstart an economy that has been at a standstill for weeks.
By Frank Hornig
When Alessandro Mattinzoli finally got home on Wednesday, he had at least managed to survive one calamity. The restaurant owner had been hospitalized since Feb. 28, suffering repeated COVID-19 complications and even spending 10 days in a coma. “I wondered more than once if I would ever see my children again,” he says.
Now, though, the 60-year-old is facing his second calamity. He employs 69 people at his restaurant and café, the Osteria al Torre, on the shores of Lake Garda, but it has been closed for the past two months. “We paid them in March and April and we will pay them in May, but that’s as long as we can keep going,” Mattinzoli says with resignation. “A factory can easily be reopened. But the business won’t simply return to Lake Garda.”
An audio tantrum he sent out while still in the hospital recently made him famous throughout the country. Mattinzoli is more than just a restaurateur – he’s also a member of the regional government of Lombardy. In his outburst, he said that Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte should be ashamed of himself, before following up with a few choice insults.
“I was still under the influence of medication,” says Mattinzoli, who is a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party. But he nonetheless stands behind his criticism. “The companies need money, as soon as possible. Dozens more companies will die with each day that passes without aid,” says Mattinzoli. He’s also calling on the government to put protective measures in place to ensure that companies don’t get bought up cheaply by international investors.
People across Italy are facing similar problems The coronavirus hit hard in Italy, with the wave of infections crashing quite early over the country. Most economic activity was suspended, with only the most essential services continuing.
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