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Italy confirms travel can restart between all regions from June 3rd

The Italian government has confirmed that unrestricted travel between regions can restart from Wednesday June 3rd as planned, with health experts urging caution.

Italy confirms travel can restart between all regions from June 3rd
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The final confirmation came late on Friday after ministers reviewed the most recent regional health monitoring data in a weekly report produced by the Ministry of Health with the Higher Health Institute.

“The current law decree provides for interregional movements from June 3rd,” health minister Roberto Speranza stated following the decision. “At the moment there are no reasons to review the planned reopening.”

As well as some international travel, unrestricted movement will be allowed in and out of all regions, including Lombardy, which remains by far the hardest-hit region in the country.

READ ALSO: Who is allowed to travel to Italy from June 3rd?

However, some southern regions with relatively few cases are now considering bringing in their own local restrictions on people arriving from the north.

 
The official Health Ministry report, based on regional data following the last round of reopenings on May 18th, urged caution in restarting regional travel.
 
It said that the current situation “is positive, on the whole, with respect to the first phase of transition” although “signs of transmission persist, with new hotspots that depict a fluid epidemiological situation in many regions.”
 

Photo: AFP

Italian newspaper Il Corriere wrote on Saturday that allowing regions to reopen “sends an important signal of economic recovery.”

“The problem of Lombardy remains, the caution of scientists too,” it continued. “But postponing the reopening for a week would have triggered unsustainable tensions and forced the government to keep foreign borders closed.”

Italy had already confirmed that some international travel would be allowed from June 3, and Il Corriere added that postpoing regional travel at this point could result in “unequal treatment between Italians and foreigners.”

READ ALSO: 

Ministers had previously suggested that they may not allow travel from regions deemed to be “high risk”, and threatened that regional travel would not be allowed if large gatherings continued, amid concerns about partying after bars reopened on May 18th.

On Thursday, a report from Gimbe, Italy's group for evidence-based medicine, warned that it would be “risky” to reopen travel to and from three northern regions – Lombardy, Liguria, and Piedmont, which it said are still seeing a high number of cases.

Italian medical experts have also cast doubt on the accuracy of health data being reported by some regions, particularly Lombardy, with the head of Gimbe, Dr. Nino Cartabellotta, saying “there is a reasonable suspicion that the regions are using tricks so they don't have to close again.”

In an interview with The Local last week, Cartabellotta said the government was pushing ahead with relaxing measures without having had enough time to see the effects of the last round of reopenings, from May 18th, on the contagion curve.

According to the official figures, more than 33,000 people have now died of the virus in Italy – around 16,000 of them in the Lombardy region alone.

There were 516 new cases recorded on Friday and 87 deaths, 38 of which were recorded in Lombardy.

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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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