Brit describes haunting coronavirus scenes in Rome with romantic meals banned

Coronavirus has left Italy's capital resembling a ghost town with tourist hotspots "hauntingly empty".

More than 460 people have now died of COVD-19 in the country, while British Airways and Ryanair have cancelled all international flights to and from the nation as it remains on entire lockdown.

Our video journalist Hannah Dodd writes this chilling first-person account from Rome, where the tourism industry has taken the devastating impact.

As she reports, the mighty Colosseum is closed, supermarkets are bare and loved ones can't hold hands in what is one of the most romantic cities in the world…


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We arrived in Rome on Saturday morning and it’s beyond belief how quickly the virus has taken the city.

On our first day, the Trevi fountain, though quieter than usual, was still awash with tourists taking selfies, and sellers touting ponchos for the thunderstorms.

By Sunday, the mighty Colosseum has fallen to COVD-19 .

Tourists were told they could not enter the interior to contain the spread of the virus, and the Roman forum was snapped up tight.

It felt like swimming the channel only to be turned away at Normandy.

By Monday, the line for the basilica was still as impressive as ever, though the bag scanners sat hauntingly empty and the Sistine Chapel was closed too.

Monday evening, the full lockdown came into place and overnight bustling Rome fell practically silent.



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Tuesday morning saw empty shelves in pharmacies and supermarkets, no masks no sanitiser and yellow chalk lines around check outs so you didn’t stand too close to the cashiers.

The restaurants are where it’s felt most.

Hosts are desperate to get you inside, lowering the cost of gourmet meals as a bargain.

But once you are seated, you are told you must maintain a distance of one metre apart.

In one of the most romantic cities in the world, the set for Audrey Hepburn’s Roman holiday, guests can’t even hold their loved ones' hands.


As we return to Trevi, the story is now vastly different.

Police guard the fountain stopping tourists from getting too close. Not even three coins in the fountain could make it over the barricade.

And just across from that, in the Piazza Navona, typically the busiest square in the city, the cobble stones lie empty and for the first time you might get the coveted picture you hope for, but not the one you want to see.

For us, Italy is a brighter prospect than the self-isolation to come, but as we make our way home, we’re struck with sadness that like so many others we’re seeing Rome in mourning for the loss of its tourists.

Meanwhile a sixth patient in the UK has died from coronavirus.

The man in his 80s lost his battle with the virus at a hospital in Watford, Hertfordshire.

The total number of UK cases has exceeded 370 today.

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