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BORDERS

Slovenia reopens border with Italy

As coronavirus border restrictions ease across Europe, a nettlesome fence on the Italy-Slovenia border came down on Monday, reuniting a town that had been divided for months.

Slovenia reopens border with Italy
The border fence between Italy and Slovenia was taken down on June 15th. Photo: Jure Makovec/AFP

The mayors of Gorizia in Italy and Nova Gorica in Slovenia cut a symbolic ribbon and hugged each other across the border to mark its full reopening.

READ ALSO: Open borders: Europe's haphazard route to ending travel restrictions

“This is a symbolic day. Both Goricas have overcome the epidemic… and proved they share a common reality, unity,” Nova Gorica Mayor Klemen Miklavic said before removing a section of fence on Europe Square.

“We are like a table with four legs, two are in Italy and two in Slovenia. If we lose two legs, the table can't stand anymore,” added Gorizia Mayor Rodolfo Ziberna.


Mayors Klemen Miklavic (L) and Rodolfo Ziberna cut a ribbon marking the border. Photo: Jure Makovec/AFP

The fence was installed by Slovenian authorities in March after the country closed its borders, and was particularly symbolic as it ran along a part of the old Iron Curtain and evoked unpleasant memories among older residents.

The original “Gorizia wall” only came down in 2004, the year Slovenia joined the European Union, and since then the town has experienced extensive integration, with residents crossing the border daily to shop, commute to work or go to school.

The border closure in March was particularly disruptive for town residents, but neither Rome nor Ljubljana were prepared to give much leeway.

Ziberna said local co-operation had remained excellent, however. “We believe this is a model of collaboration we could export to all of Europe,” he said.


People chat through the border fence in early June. Photo: Jure Makovec/AFP

After declaring the end of the epidemic last month, Slovenia has eased travel restrictions with its neighbours. The border with Italy — one of the countries hardest hit by the virus — was the last to come down, and people were finally allowed to cross into Slovenia on Monday with no restrictions.

READ ALSO: 

Italy has recorded almost 4,000 cases per million inhabitants, while Slovenia has had just over 700. With a population of around two million people, Slovenia has registered just under 1,500 Covid-19 infections and 109 deaths, while more than 34,000 people have died in Italy.

Slovenia now allows restriction-free travel to 19 European countries, though controls remain in place for those arriving from Britain and Sweden among others.

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STRIKES

TRAVEL: Delays expected as Italian airport workers strike on Friday

Passengers travelling to and from Italian airports were warned to expect delays on Friday, January 27th, due to strikes by baggage handlers and other staff, with Milan's Linate set to be worst affected.

TRAVEL: Delays expected as Italian airport workers strike on Friday

Strike action on by staff from airport ground service companies may result in delays and queues at some Italian airports, with ticket desks, check-in and baggage handling likely to be affected.

At the national level, ground support staff will take part in a strike held by several of Italy’s biggest trade unions during the day, while an additional strike by baggage handlers at Milan’s Linate airport is expected to cause further disruption.

“It won’t be so much a problem of cancelled flights, even if sometimes the airlines seize the opportunity to cancel one that would leave half empty, but of delays,” Renzo Canavesi, CUB union leader for the Lombardy region, told La Stampa.

READ ALSO: Should you travel in Italy when there’s a strike on?

At Linate, ground service company Swissport Italia and handling companies Airport Handling and Air Cargo plan to strike on Friday.

Staff from Swissport Italia will hold a 24-hour strike at Linate, while the other two ground operators will strike for four hours (from 10.30am to 2.30pm for Airport Handling; from 9pm to 1am of the next day for Airport Cargo).

Passengers are advised to arrive early for flights and to check the status of their service before leaving for the airport.

Passengers may be entitled to compensation in the event of severe delays or flight cancellations. See our guide for further details.

You can keep up to date with the latest strike news from Italy HERE.

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