Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 4 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Italy to allow international travel from June 3

Shutdown halted all holidaymaking in a country whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism industry

Italy will reopen to international tourism from early June and stop a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for all incoming holidaymakers, the government said on Saturday.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte enforced a crippling shutdown in early March to counter a pandemic that has so far killed more than 31,500 people in Italy. The country, the first in Europe to impose nationwide restrictions, is the second hardest hit in the continent after Britain.

The shutdown halted all holidaymaking in a country whose economy is heavily dependent on the tourism industry.

Although Italy never formally closed its borders and has allowed people to cross back and forth for work or health reasons, it banned movement for tourism and imposed a two-week quarantine for new arrivals.

In March, the European Union banned foreign nationals from entering its 22-state Schengen zone, with exceptions for medical workers and essential travel.

But on Wednesday, the EU set out plans for a phased restart of summer travel, urging member states to reopen its internal borders, while recommending that external borders remain shut for most travel until at least the middle of June.

Italy's government did not explicitly state which foreign nationals would be allowed to enter, but said its new measures respected the "legal order of the European Union".

Beginning on June 3, visitors within the Schengen zone will be allowed to enter Italy with no obligation to self-isolate. Italians will also be able to move between regions, though local authorities can limit travel if infections spike.

The peak of Italy's contagion passed at the end of March but with experts warning of a possible second wave, Mr Conte had been reluctant to lift the lockdown quickly.

His approach frustrated many of Italy's regions, with some already allowing businesses to reopen before the restrictions were lifted.

Restaurants, bars and hairdressers are being allowed to reopen on Monday, two weeks earlier than initially planned.

Shops will also open and Italians will finally be able to see friends, as long as they live within a region.

Church services will begin again but the faithful will have to follow social-distancing rules and holy water fonts will be empty. Mosques will also reopen.

Gatherings of large groups are still banned.

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany’s economy – the largest on the continent – fell into a recession after reporting a 2.2 per cent decline in the first three months of the year, as the coronavirus roiled markets.

Updated: May 17, 2020 07:38 AM

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