Italians Hug Grandchildren for First Time Since Coronavirus Lockdown

A grandfather holding his grandson in the air.
Johnny Cohen/Unsplash

European grandparents were able to embrace their grandchildren for the first time in weeks as countries across the continent begin to lift lockdown measures.

Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, began lifting restrictive coronavirus social distancing measures on Monday. Extended family members are now able to visit each other again, with many grandparents giving their grandchildren hugs for the first time since the lockdown began two months ago.

Sky News highlighted a case of one family reunited, reporting from Rome, Italy, of five-year-old Cecilia running up to her grandparents and hugging them. Before social distancing, the little girl had seen her nonno and nonna every week.

The Chinese coronavirus hits older generations particularly hard, and lifting of the shielding of senior citizens has become the first sign of society slowly returning to normal.

Italian construction workers and factory employees can also return to work. The Italian tradition of drinking coffee has been revived with the reopening of cafes — albeit for takeaway orders only and served by baristas wearing masks.

While Demark’s health ministry announced on Monday that grandparents could visit, hug, and kiss their grandchildren as the Scandinavian nation also slowly comes out of coronavirus lockdown.

“You can, of course, give hugs to those closest to you, for example, your partner, children, and grandchildren,” the guidance said, adding: “But avoid handshakes, hugs and kisses on the cheek with anyone apart from those closest to you.”

Last week, Switzerland eased its lockdown measures allowing hairdressers and garden centres to open. Switzerland became the first European country that had been under lockdown to revise its advice on intergenerational contact, saying that it was safe for children under ten to hug their grandparents.

The advice came from the health ministry’s head of infectious diseases, Daniel Koch, who had said: “Young children are not infected and do not transmit the virus. They just don’t have the receptors to catch the disease.”

Grandparents “live to see their grandchildren”, Dr Koch said and recognised the importance of seeing family for good mental health.

On Monday, Italian grandmother Maria Antonietta Galluzzo told Reuters she was “so excited” about seeing her three-year-old grandson, that she woke up at 5:30 am. Taking him for a walk through Rome’s Villa Borghese park, she remarked how much he had grown in two months, saying: “It is wonderful.”

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