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HEALTH

No, Italy has not closed its borders to tourists until 2021

After misleading reports circulated this week claiming that Italy had decided to close its borders to visitors until next year, here's a look at the facts on travel to Italy.

No, Italy has not closed its borders to tourists until 2021
Everyone wants to know when travel to Italy will be possible again. File photo: AFP

Several of The Local's readers in Italy got in touch on Wednesday morning to ask us about suspect claims on social media and in some international news outlets stating that the Italian government has closed the country's borders to tourists until 2021.

Fortunately, the Italian government has not announced any such measure.

The Italian embassy in Moscow on Tuesday denied reports in some Russian media outlets of an alleged statement concerning the closure of Italian borders until the end of this year by Italy's culture and tourism minister, Dario Franceschini.

“The matter of Italy closing its state borders has not been discussed,” the embassy stated.

Franceschini himself, when asked about the claims in Italy's Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday, said: “As is all too obvious, I have never spoken, nor ever thought, of closing the Italian borders to tourists for 2020,” according to Il Messaggero.

“I am working on the exact opposite. I proposed yesterday at the meeting of tourism ministers of the European Union, a European uniformity of the safety rules with respect to the risk of contagion, allowing the free movement of tourists within the European Union. So we're starting bilateral talks with other countries that have a lot of tourism going to to Italy,” he added.

“Unfortunately, it is clear that fake news on closed borders is being circulated, with hostile intentions towards our country.”

Central Venice without the usual tourist crowds in April. Photo: AFP

And the president of Italy's National Tourism Agency, Giorgio Palmucci, stated: “Tourism in Italy will start again, with caution and maximum safety.  Minister Franceschini did well to clarify that no border closure is foreseen.”

“Those who love Italy must be allowed to return to enjoy it, in compliance with governmental and regional provisions,” he continued.

“This is a delicate phase in which it is essential to defend Italy even when it comes to correct communications. Bad information and fake news risk creating serious damage and unjustified alarmism.”

Technically, Italy's borders are not currently and never have been closed to tourism.

But of course, though there's no ban on foreign visitors and most Italian airports are actually still open, the strict measures aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus make travel to and from the country nearly impossible at the moment.

READ ALSO: Why are planes still flying to and from Italy during lockdown?

So when will we be able to travel to Italy?

This depends on when Italy's government, and other governments, deem it safe to relax various restrictions.

Hotels are closed. Museums may be allowed to reopen from mid-May, and bars and restaurants could be allowed to open their doors from June 1st, according to the latest government decree announced on Sunday.

Q&A: What are Italy's new rules under lockdown phase two?

But, while nothing has been confirmed yet, only domestic tourism within Italy is likely to be allowed this summer.

“We are making a strong investment in domestic tourism, because this will be a summer of holidays in Italy,” Franchescini said in an interview on Wednesday morning, in which he reiterated that claims of border closures until 2021 were false.

Under current rules, no travel is allowed at all except for emergencies, work, and health-related reasons. Italy's residents still need to complete a form every time they leave the house.

As Italy moves into “phase two” of its lockdown measures some rules will gradually be loosened over the following weeks, beginning on May 4th, though movements will still be restricted.

It is not yet known when Italy's residents will be allowed to travel freely within the country, or even in their own region.

International travel is not expected to be allowed to resume until “phase three” begins. And at the moment it's not known how long the second phase, which hasn't even started yet, may last.

Read more about the current travel restrictions in Italy and when they might be lifted here.

 

Member comments

  1. Italians should limit mass tourism and start with caution.Downloading visitor vouchers is one way or an app which gives you an access to a particular city or region.Like limit the people who can visit for example Venice or Florence a particular day or week.
    Random checks at Train stations or museums should be able to detect who is allowed and who is not.There should be fines.People should also carry a doctors certificate

  2. “The Italian embassy in Moscow on Tuesday denied reports in some Russian media outlets…”
    OF COURSE the fake news came out of Russia. Exactly no one is shocked by that. What I am shocked by is that anyone believes ANYTHING coming out of Russia.

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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