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‘There is a haunting silence’: This is life in Italy, one year after a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19 | Instant News

COMO, Italy – As Maestro Vanni Moretto walked across the stage, the only sound he could hear was the echo of his footsteps as he took center stage in front of his orchestra. He turned to face the 858 empty seats at the Teatro Verdi in Pisa and awkwardly tilted his head, first left then right, acknowledging the unseen audience. There is silence haunting the empty spaces of the stalls and the highlands. Taking off his mask, he signals the start of the symphony, and the music begins.

Twelve months after Italy began its first lockdown, following the cluster of COVID-19 infections in the northern industrial area, composer Milan, orchestra conductor and violinist Vanni Moretto summed up the situation in one word – sadness. It is grim to say that cinemas remain closed as we enter the second year of the pandemic. Cultural Heritage Minister Dario Franchesini initially had high hopes for the ongoing live stream, but his proposal on ‘Cultural Netflix’ was considered by many in the industry as pure madness or “total madness”.

“We are tired at the moment, and demotivated,” said Moretto. “The initial enthusiasm for reinventing our work via streaming has slowed down. You can’t simply perform a Shostakovich symphony, for example, in an empty theater. That Magic moment the first note, in front of a live audience, has been stripped of both the orchestra and the audience. This is disappointing. ”

‘The magico moment of the first note, in front of a live audience, has been stripped of both the orchestra and the audience.’

– Orchestra conductor and violinist Vanni Moretto

Nearly a year when cinemas, theaters and museums first closed to the public, La Scala in Milan, Teatro Sociale di Como along with many others across the country lit up their buildings in an attempt to highlight the plight of an industry. felt left in the dark. This initiative also serves as a plea to leaders to think about our mental health where, as Gandhi put it, “the culture of a nation resides.”

Government officials, however, had other things on their mind. Former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte felt the need to resign following a dispute over how to allocate the € 209 billion ($ 249 billion) he got from Europe, which is 28% of all EU rescue funds. President Sergio Mattarella has since put his trust in former head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi to help the country emerge from its political and economic crisis.

Vaccinations start here on December 27th. Currently, Pfizer
+ 0.56%

and German partner BioNTech SE
+ 1.10%


two-dose vaccine, and AstraZeneca
+ 1.76%

a single-dose vaccine by booster injection 12 weeks earlier is available here. More than 1.6 million have been fully vaccinated.

As of Monday, more than 3 million Italians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 99,785 people have died from the coronavirus, the sixth highest death toll per country since the pandemic began.

Prime Minister Draghi’s new government was sworn in last month, in what he described as a “difficult moment for Italy.” He not only plans to defeat the pandemic, solve vaccinations, solve citizen problems and rebuild the country, but the agenda is green too. On this front, the pandemic will certainly help given that many of us are now being given clues about the efficiency of online meetings instead of getting on a plane to meet the boss in Naples or Rome.

However, this may not bode well for the world of culture that the Deputy Secretary for Cultural Heritage claims, Lucia Borgonzoni, haven’t read the book for years of pleasure. The priority, perhaps, remains elsewhere as the pandemic continues to penetrate the region. Experts predict that the English variant will become dominant by mid-March, while health official Silvio Brusaferro is optimistic that the Brazilian and South African strains can still be contained.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza also hopes, even though there is a delay in vaccination. Talks have started about vaccine production in Italy, with a projected time frame of four to six months. Authorities hope to achieve herd immunity this summer and then move on to the final phase of shooting in the last quarter of 2021, but according to a weekly index published by the Hume Foundation, we need to vaccinate four times the current rate. for that to happen.

Alison Fottrell: ‘The authorities hope to achieve herd immunity this summer and then move on to the final phase of shooting in the last quarter of 2021, but according to the weekly index published by the Hume Foundation, we need to vaccinate at four o’clock. times the current rate for that to happen. ‘

To speed things up, the Ministry of Health has given the green light for the possibility of skipping a booster vaccine for those who have recently been exposed to the virus. This is based on the assumption that these people have developed certain immunity. It is clear that all options are being examined so that there could be some easing of the boundaries that continue to define our daily existence. Lombardy in the north remains the region with the highest number of COVID-19 cases, with an oscillating infection rate currently at 6.7%.

As a result, restaurants and bars continue to close at 6pm. The 22:00 national curfew, in effect from November 2020, remains in effect. This is the time when the shutters are closed, and the streets are mostly silent until 5 a.m. when they lift.

In order for no curfew, we must have less than 50 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants in the region, which the government calls the ‘white’ zone. In fact, every part of Italy is periodically colored – the lighter the color, the less casing.

While this color coding idea avoids a national lockdown like the one on 9 March 2020 and provides some areas of respite from the intensity of government action, living with uncertainty can be troubling. It’s like Kaa Rudyard Kipling coming back to life every two weeks to cast her optical spell, turning us from red to orange to yellow and back to an even deeper orange. That’s the number of Como colors since the start of the year. This is enough to make your head spin.

“It looks like Rudyard Kipling’s Kaa comes to life every two weeks to cast its optical spell, turning us from red to orange to yellow and back to even deeper orange. ‘

And the head is not the only thing that starts, as the Italians say, turn. People get frustrated. Over the past year, relatives have died, funerals have been missed, and people in general have been scaled back. Whether COVID is positive or not, physical isolation is real. And for young people, this is very destabilizing. The constant threat of turning red loomed large, and they were under immense psychological stress the longer this lasted.

According to Stefano Vicari, head of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry at the Bambino Gesù in Rome, the number of incidents of self-harm and attempted suicide among those aged 12 to 18 has risen sharply, especially since the second wave of the pandemic. by October 2020. The recent increase in police patrols on the busy square in Como on Saturday night is further evidence of a growing social malaise that needs to be watched. Street fights have broken out between local youths, and a similar scene has been witnessed in Milan.

With the region’s recent color change, high school students here in Como are returning to their full computer screens, only returning to the classroom on alternate weeks. The longer their virtual course lasts, the higher the dropout rate, with those most disadvantaged economically most at risk. And just as some people can’t wait to get back to normal, there are others who have become accustomed to online interactions, and are genuinely afraid to return to their previous routine.

Back at the Teatro Verdi of Pisa, the show, as it should be, continues. “The damage has been done, to what extent we still can’t understand, but over time I think we’ll see that it’s significant,” repeated Maestro Vanni Moretto. He presided over the orchestra with a rising crescendo of strings, horns, and oboes before marking the end of the symphony. He turned again to face the silence of the empty theater and to recognize the faceless crowd. Swinging back to the musicians, he does the closing gesture of the concert and asks them to bow. He quickly left. As shown by Moretto’s curtain concert and curtain call, there is a sense of hope and uneasiness.

One year after our national lockdown, life here in Italy is neither normal nor new.

Alison Fottrell is a teacher and writer based in Como, Italy.

This essay is part of the MarketWatch series, ‘Deliveries from the pandemic. ‘

‘Cultural Heritage Minister Dario Franchesini initially had high hopes for the ongoing live stream, but his proposal for’ Netflix of Culture ‘was seen by many in the industry as a temple follia or “total madness”. Photo: Seats marked due to social distancing at the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan, Italy.

Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images


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Olo Is Not Everyone’s Food Delivery Staple | Instant News

It is as if the online food delivery industry not convoluted enough, apparently there are other intermediaries.





15 year old Olo is not a name your average eater will know. From a consumer’s point of view, that is largely behind their experience of ordering online from a restaurant, helping the chain with things like third-party order integration and fulfillment. It competes with online delivery platforms in some aspects of its business, but considers it a significant customer on the other. It also boasts another key difference: Its business is designed to be more like a software as a service company.

Food delivery, but make it SaaS, basically. In filing its initial public offering last month, Olo gave investors an idea of ​​the advantages most food delivery platforms have yet to achieve on a sustainable basis. Even DoorDash, which increased revenue by 226% in 2020, is still losing money for the year. But Olo says it generates more than $ 3 million in net revenue in 2020 from revenue growing at less than half the rate of leading US food delivery platforms.

However, it is not clear how easily the profits can be recovered. Unlike typical SaaS models, where the business has significant visibility into future revenue thanks to up-front paying contracts, Olo calls itself a “transactional SaaS” model, where revenue comes not only from subscriptions but also from costs per transaction. This last source of income is important because it now forms the majority of its business: Although Olo says less than 7% of its revenue came from transactions in 2018, that percentage is growing to nearly 57% in 2020.

That mix of businesses alone should make SaaS investors bite their fingers. But things become even more uncertain when you consider that food delivery platforms that hope to see a significant moderation in their pace of growth over the next year are some of Olo’s biggest customers. According to its filing, Olo provides DoorDash access to its order fulfillment, aggregator and channel management solutions. Transaction revenue from DoorDash accounted for at least 19% of Olo’s overall top line last year, up from 2.6% in 2018.That likely means the DoorDash pandemic-driven business boom was a key factor in Olo’s ability to turn a profit – Olo lost money in two the year before 2020.

Slows down growth not the only risk associated with DoorDash. Olo also disclosed in his public offering that his party was being sued by the company, which alleges a breach of contract related to fees. While Olo said the allegations were baseless, the more than $ 7 million DoorDash was seeking would be insignificant if given. Furthermore, the lawsuit could threaten to injure what is clearly a significant financial relationship for Olo.

Demand for food deliveries has surged amid the pandemic, but restaurants are struggling to survive. In a highly competitive industry, delivery services are struggling to gain market share while facing increasing pressure to lower commission costs and provide more protection to its workers. Video / Photo: Jaden Urbi / WSJ

Olo may be the newest food trading technology company to hit the public market, but it’s nothing new. Preceding DoorDash, Uber Eats and even Grubhub, the company says its name actually stands for “online ordering,” which in the dial-up era used to be three words.

Olo started his business long before, sending text message orders to printers before the world owned iPhones. Investors must now wonder if it has taken a front on its own.

Write to Laura Forman on [email protected]

Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8


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CEO of ‘Builderman’ Roblox Goes to Wall Street with Troop of Young Gamers | Instant News

Chief Executive Roblox Corp. David Baszucki won the loyalty of tens of millions of videogamers with a do-it-yourself gaming approach that defies industry-specific formulas for success.

Roblox is slated to make its public market debut March 10 through direct listing, an unconventional process that allows companies to trade on the stock exchange without raising new capital. The company based in San Mateo, California, was founded in 2004, rotated from traditional public offerings last year after

By Dash Inc.


Airbnb Inc.

jumped beyond expectations in their IPO.

Roblox founder and CEO David Baszucki, pictured in 2018, is a frequent presence on the platform, under the name ‘Builderman.’


Steve Jennings / Getty Images for TechCrunch

Roblox’s debut is coming as the coronavirus pandemic has prompted people to do so spend more money and time on video games than before. Tech valuations have surged over the past year – Roblox was personally worth $ 29.5 billion in January, up more than seven times from early 2020 – although the stocks have recently faltered amid shifting investor sentiment that an improved economy will benefit the sector other.

Instead of relying on Hollywood-like budgets and rock star talent to produce a few blockbuster games each year, Roblox is shifting game development to its own players. These players, especially teenagers and preteens, in turn produce their own hits and earn 70% of the revenue their work generates.

“We are like YouTube, except our content is a game, and our content allows everyone to play together,” Baszucki said in 2018 while speaking at his alma mater, Stanford University. The 58-year-old man himself often appears at Roblox, using the name “Builderman”.

This approach has earned Roblox an estimated 33 million daily users who can choose between tens of millions of multiplayer games, ranging from obstacle challenges and catch the flag iterations to contests based on popular characters like Peppa Pig and Sonic the Hedgehog. The company provides free tools and instructions that players – even those with no coding experience – can use to create games for its platform.

Samuel Jordan of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, took a hiatus from college about a year ago to focus on creating games and other digital content for Roblox with his business partners. The 21-year-old, who participated in the company-run accelerator program in the summer of 2019, says he made about $ 600,000 last year from his Roblox creations, up from $ 30,000 in 2019.

“This is crazy,” Jordan said, adding that the pandemic was likely to contribute to a tremendous increase. More than 300 Roblox developers made $ 100,000 or more last year, the company said.

The health crisis provided significant fuel for Roblox’s business. Revenue grew 82% last year to $ 923.9 million, while orders – sales of virtual items on the platform – more than doubled to about $ 1.9 billion.

Samuel Jordan of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says he made an estimated $ 600,000 last year from his Roblox creations.


Maria Alejandra Cardona for The Wall Street Journal

London’s Alan and Sinéidin Cooper said their two daughters, ages 5 and 10, and 7-year-old son each spent about five hours a week at Roblox before the pandemic. Now that time is doubled because they are using the platform to connect with friends. The couple treated their kids to Robux worth around $ 40 to $ 45 per month.

“It’s a great way for them to socialize,” Mr said. Cooper.

Roblox hasn’t been able to turn user loyalty into profit, as its net loss in 2020 swelled to $ 253.3 million from $ 71 million a year earlier. The company has said it plans to continue investing in the platform, which can be used for distance learning, conferences and other group experiences, such as concerts.


In your opinion, what is the price of Roblox on the public market? Join the conversation below.

Like other online hangouts featuring user-generated content, Roblox has to contend with predators and troublemakers who target children with inappropriate material – a particular concern given that more than half of the platform’s users are under 13. The company says it has made significant steps to keep users safe, such as by adding a communication filter to eliminate offensive speech.

Supporters include the large venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Altos Ventures and Greylock Partners. David Sze, a Greylock partner, said the company invested in Roblox partly because of Mr. Baszucki. While other CEOs may have switched from business models after modest initial growth, Mr. Baszucki remains confident in Roblox’s user-created mission, says Sze.

“It’s like 10 years walking through the desert without anyone trusting you,” he said. “Dave against all odds.”

Mr. Baszucki, who declined to be interviewed for this article, started and then sold a software company that specialized in physics simulation before founding Roblox with fellow programmer Erik Cassel, who died of cancer in 2013. They started making games for the platform, but soon invite other players to create their own. Roblox was released to the public in 2006.

“We immediately realized what they were building was much more interesting and exciting than anything we had ever made,” Baszucki wrote in a Roblox securities filing. Mr Baszucki is the largest shareholder of the company and holds 70% of the voting rights. He will forego cash and equity compensation for seven years after Roblox goes public, and in return qualify for a performance-based stock award, which he intends to donate for philanthropic causes.

Mr. Baszucki was an investor in Friendster, an early competitor for

Facebook Inc.,

and he sees Roblox as a combination of Second Life’s social networking platform and online virtual world, said Matt Dusek, a Roblox start-up employee who left the company in 2019. “He sees things as further away than anyone else around him often does,” Said Mr. Dusek.

Samuel Jordan and his business partner Kyle Hulse outside their shared office space in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday.


Maria Alejandra Cardona for The Wall Street Journal

In the following years, Roblox gradually expanded its user base. Mr. Baszucki, as “Builderman,” will greet new players digitally, appearing as one of the platform’s signature box avatars and offering tips on how to get started. Popular games inspire players to become developers, who then make more games, attracting more users – the so-called network effect.

Roblox’s user-generated gaming strategy has won praise from industry leaders. Tim Sweeney, CEO of “Fortnite” creator of Epic Games Inc., credits the company for helping gamers become game makers. “Roblox has done a tremendous job building the ecosystem,” he said in an email.

Although the company has warned that people may spend less time with its games as the pandemic fades, it wants to continue to add to its base of more than 8 million developers. Similar to other videogame publishers, Roblox is also looking to join more brands like

Nike Inc.


Mattel Inc.

about marketing promotions.

Write to Sarah E. Needleman at [email protected]

Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8


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Futures Rise After Capitol Riot Inquiry Commission Is Announced | Instant News

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine bottle

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New Zealand beats Covid. This is what it’s like to be in quarantine at a four-star hotel in Auckland | Instant News

The UK government’s mandatory hotel quarantine for travelers arriving from “red list” countries will go into effect on February 15. Since then, travelers have had to pay to isolate for 10 days in a room at the hotel and be accompanied by security if they wish to leave the hotel – just as I did when I was quarantined at a hotel in Auckland, New Zealand, in December. 2020.

Led by health secretary Matt Hancock, the government said on February 4 that it had asked hotels near the port and airport to submit bids with proposals for how they would manage their facilities. More details are expected next week, particularly regarding how passengers can book rooms prior to arrival.

Apart from the administrative details, what exactly is a hotel quarantine like? Well, the first thing you should know is that you have to find a way to keep your mind busy. That, and a steady supply of coffee and fresh air helped me get through the 15 day quarantine.

Hancock has spoken with her Australian counterpart to ask about how the country is implementing a quarantine system, and has plans to talk to New Zealand officials as well. Australia launched its system at the start of the pandemic March 28, 2020 while the New Zealand system was launched April 9, 2020.

When I returned home to New Zealand in December last year, I was sent straight from the airport to the four-star Rydges hotel – also known as the “Management and Isolation Quarantine” facility – in downtown Auckland with other travelers on my flights. In the United Kingdom, the program name is similar, with hotels being dubbed “Managed Quarantine Facilities”.

READ Travelers will have to pay for mandatory hotel quarantine in the UK from 15 February

Since April 9, 2020New Zealand has a strict quarantine on all citizens and permanent residents entering the country – the only people allowed to arrive in my 4.9m wide home country. Initially, quarantine was mandatory for free, but now travelers staying less than 90 days in the country will have to pay NZD $ 3,100 (about £ 1,620).

Upon arrival, a large and somewhat intimidating information pack explaining what I will and cannot do over the next two weeks, with the extra privilege granted if I test negative after my two Covid-19 tests. The test rules have changed and the government now requires three tests: On the first, third and 12th day.

I have to stay two meters away from everyone and be unable to share rides with anyone other than those in my travel bubble. We were allowed into the outdoor area just in front of the hotel lobby which was double fenced from the public: one held us back and two meters away from people.

After the third day’s test came back negative, we were given two privileges: Sitting on the rooftop bar and the “park walk”, where groups of 10 to 15 people were taken by bus to a fenced soccer field where we could take a walk 45 minutes.

READ Britons going abroad should explain why before traveling, Patel said

Another highlight of the quarantined travelers day is food. In New Zealand, food is plentiful and arrives three times a day in a brown paper bag that is dropped at your door.

Even though the staff delivering him were long gone, it was a tradition to shout thanks in the empty corridors. In the middle of the quarantine period, I was treated to a surprise cake shop to congratulate me on making it this far.

Work is also a welcome distraction – knowing it’s about 10 meters from the door to the furthest wall in my room. Walking there and back 50 times is a kilometer so I make sure to keep going under any circumstances.

Throughout my time in hotel quarantine, I have and continue to respect front line workers, medical staff and defense forces. Everyone cares for you: they’ll congratulate you when you’re halfway through and celebrate with you while you’re away.

Random strangers walking past the hotel would wave and cheer, raising everyone’s spirits. Seeing some of my friends and family between the fences makes me emotional and gives me extra energy to get through.

The best part? Hugged my Mother as I left quarantine in the bright New Zealand sun.

READ The government will close schools until March 8 and impose a hotel quarantine for arrivals in the UK

Sacha Dick works in London for Barron’s Group. He shared his experience with Bérengère Sim

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Sacha Dick


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