Italy to Start Easing Travel Restrictions by June 3
Italy on Saturday moved to significantly unwind coronavirus-related movement restrictions, announcing plans to allow travel across the country as well as to and from abroad beginning June 3.
According to The Washington Post, such changes would restore many of the freedoms that were in place before Italy became the epicenter for the virus’s spread in Europe. Italy is under intense economic pressure to reopen its doors and revive its tourism sector, which normally accounts for 13 percent of its GDP.
But the country is also gambling that it can contain any new outbreaks that might come with freer travel.
Since early March, the movement of Italians has been severely restricted, as part of one of the most rigid lockdowns in Europe. Under the current restrictions, people in the country are not allowed to leave their region, and leisure travelers are prohibited from coming to Italy. Anybody arriving in the country for urgent business reasons is required to self-isolate for 14 days.
The Italian government, announcing the new plans, did not say whether travelers coming to Italy after June 3 will be forced to isolate. But the Italian daily La Repubblica reported that people coming from the European Union will not be subject to quarantine.
Even by loosening the restrictions, Italy will have a hard time fully restoring its summer tourism season. Airlines have dramatically cut back on routes to the country, and many people who had planned trips to Italy have already canceled.
Countries with more controlled outbreaks, like Greece and Portugal, are trying to pitch themselves as safe travel destinations for northern Europeans trying to escape to the beach.
Still, Italy is moving quickly to ease its restrictions in part because many of its regional governments, worried about the economic toll, have agitated for a more rapid timetable.
On May 4, Italy took the first steps to emerge from lockdown, allowing factories and construction projects to resume. The government has since pushed up the opening date for restaurants — from early June to May 18. Retail stores and museums will also restart May 18.
The stringent lockdown Italy imposed for eight weeks succeeded in slowing the pace at which the virus was spreading. The country is discovering roughly 1,000 new coronavirus cases daily, compared with 6,000 at the peak in late March. Only 10 percent of the country’s intensive care beds are occupied by coronavirus patients, compared with more than 50 percent more than a month ago.