Italians unsure who their ‘relatives’ are as lockdown eases

Italians maintain social distancing as they wait for the subway in Rome yesterday. (AP pic)

ROME: Just who is your relative anyway?

That is what millions of stir crazy Italians have apparently been asking ever since Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte allowed them to leave their homes to see their loved ones starting next Monday.

Media reports said “relative” became the most searched for term on the Italian internet for a few hours after Conte’s Sunday night television address.

Conte said Italians would be allowed to leave their homes for the first time since March 9 “to visit relatives, but only if they respect distance and wear masks”.

The only problem is that Italy has no legal definition of the term and people sounded genuinely confused.

Most of the big papers devoted entire articles to the subject of whether your boyfriend or distant cousin provided a good enough legal excuse to leave your house.

“Here is who you can call your relative,” read a headline of the highbrow Il Sole 24 Ore financial daily.

Its deep dive into the subject included a passage on “emotional relationships” and kinship.

The paper concluded that engaged couples were safe but boyfriends and girlfriends were iffy.

Other papers strongly disagreed.

“Boyfriends are also relatives,” the Il Messaggero newspaper declared in a headline.

It quoted an unnamed “source” in Conte’s office as saying that relatives could potentially include “stable boyfriends”.

Corriere della Sera said the prime minister’s office planned to issue a “FAQ explainer” that could help dispel the confusion.

Eventually Conte himself stepped into the fray.

“A relative is a somewhat broad and generic term,” he conceded to a group of reporters late Monday.

“It does not mean that you can go to a friend’s or someone else’s house and have a party,” he said to the likely disappointment of many.

“These are people with whom you have family relations. Or, stable emotional relations,” Conte said.