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HEALTH

Travel between ‘low risk’ Italian regions may be allowed from early June: minister

People can "probably" travel freely around Italy again from June 3rd, depending on regional risk, Italy's Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia has said.

The government is looking at relaxing travel rules, including the ban on travel between regions, as it continues to ease measures introduced in March aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
 
“It will depend on the conditions of the region. If a region is low risk, travel will probably be allowed from June 3rd,” Boccia said on Thursday, the Ansa news agency reports.
 
“On interregional mobility, I ask for a little more patience,” he said.
 
“Today most of the regions are at low risk, three are at medium risk, but we're talking about data from the past. I hope that all of them will become low risk next week.”
 
He did not state which three regions are seen as “medium risk”.
 
He explained that the government wants to wait a few days for more data, in order to see whether the infection rate has been affected by the relaxation of the restrictions so far in May.
 
 
“If a region is high risk it certainly won't be able to receive entries from other regions, but let's hope that is not the case”.
 
He went on to say the crowds at nightlife spots, seen since restrictions were eased on May 4th and again on May 18th, were “not tolerable” and “risk becoming a hotbed for infection.”
 
Crowds in Milan's popular canalside area after lockdown rules were relaxed on May 4th. Photo: AFP
 
As Italy relaxes its coronavirus lockdown, some restrictions on travel have been dropped – but there are still restrictions on travel between regions, or to and from the country
 
The government stated on May 16th that people in Italy would be allowed to move between regions from June 3rd, though local authorities can limit travel if there's an increase in infections.
 
It also said international travel to and from EU countries would be allowed from the same date, with no obligation to self-isolate. 
 
 
International and interregional movement can be limited by regional decree “in relation to specific states and territories, in accordance with the principles of adequacy and proportionality to the epidemiological risk”, the government stated.
 
The external borders of the EU remain closed to non-essential travel until at least June 15th.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels to discuss the latest Covid situation in China - so could this mark the return of vaccine passports and travel restrictions?

Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

Several EU countries including France, Italy and Spain (as well as non-EU countries including the UK and USA) have already imposed travel restrictions on arrivals from China, over fears of new variants of Covid-19.

The countries announced their restrictions – mostly amounting to compulsory tests and masks – on a unilateral basis at the end of last week, but there have been calls for greater co-ordination at an EU level.

There is now a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability to discuss coordinating measures, with an insider telling Politico: “The idea is to harmonise, but without being extremely prescriptive.”

The meeting has been called by Sweden, which now holds the rotating presidency of the EU. 

So what measures are likely?

At present the countries that have announced restrictions have only imposed testing and mask rules – there is no requirement to show proof of vaccination and no travel bans. All measures only apply only to travellers from China.

A meeting of the European Health Safety Committee last Thursday did not produce any concrete measures, with EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides merely urging member states to coordinate quickly. It was after this that some countries announced their own restrictions.

If anything more concrete comes out of Wednesday’s meeting, it is likely to refer to testing or mask rules only and like the previous EU Covid travel policies, will be advisory for countries to follow.

Because borders are a national competence, countries can impose their own measures without having to consult the EU.

Despite the introduction of the EU digital vaccine passport, countries never managed to entirely co-ordinate their travel rules during 2020 and 2021.

In most EU countries the health pass or vaccine pass apps remain active, and could be used again if necessary. 

Will there be travel bans?

At this stage more draconian restrictions – such as the ‘red lists’ or ‘essential travel only’ rules of 2021 seem unlikely.

Most EU countries have a high level of vaccine cover, so would probably only resort to travel restrictions if new variants – against which current Covid vaccines are not effective – emergence in China (or any other country).  

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