To all our friends including our followers, we are all concerned about what is happening in the world as the COVID-19 virus spreads.  Up until this past weekend, our hearts were filled with compassion for those people in countries that were affected.  Now, it has become an immediate concern as the press reports that there are 230 infected people in Italy.  As a company, we are located in the infected area of Italy – Lombardy.  We are 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the epicentre of the “hotbed” where the first cases of COVID – 19 were discovered .  Our italian press has  intimated that the cause of the outbreak occurred in one of our  hospitals that did not follow the proper medical protocol.  We will never know the full truth as currently, our press, as so many others in the world, has become sensationalist and prone to exaggeration.

The effects of the virus scare in Milan – a city of over 3 million – has been taken very seriously by the Authorities.  In front of my home, in center Milan, there is a sign plastered on the doors of the Tennis Club,  that caters to the elderly, children and fit adults.  Translated it says: By Ordinance of the Republic of Italy and this Township, All Services Are Suspended Until Further Notice.  Today, I was walking to certain public offices and discovered that the Office of Taxes was open but the Health Office was closed.  Immigration offices, theatres, schools , universities in the entire province of Lombardy are closed.  Traffic is light even during “rush hour”  as companies have made attendance in the office “discretionary” and the concept of SMART WORKING has sprung up.  Railway companies are offering bonuses to entice customers to resume travel post COVID-19  And, finally, some of our international Fairs – Furniture Expo & Fashion Week – are in danger of being cancelled.

With all this bad news, I want everyone to keep in mind that we are in Italy and Italians are very reactive – we rally!   More importantly, this country has great health facilities and our hospitals are excellent.   It also has to be remembered that the first breakthrough in discovering the structure of the COVID-19 virus was made by  2 Italian women scientists. I wish that I could conclude this story by telling you to come and visit Italy.  Not yet!  Let’s wait till this  summer and let us know when you do so that we can welcome you.