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TOURISM

Italy bars entry from 13 ‘high-risk’ countries

Italy has closed its borders to 13 countries judged to be a high risk for coronavirus infections, including Bangladesh and Brasil.

Italy bars entry from 13 'high-risk' countries
A plane flies into Rome's Fiumicino airport. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

In a decree on Thursday, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Italy was closed to people travelling from Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bosnia, Chile, Kuwait, North Macedonia, Moldova, Oman, Panama, Peru and the Dominican Republic.

The ban applies to everyone who has spent any time in any of those countries within the past 14 days, regardless of nationality or residency.

All direct as well as connecting flights to and from the countries on the list are suspended until further notice.

“Around the world the pandemic is in its most acute phase. We cannot render useless the sacrifices Italians have made in recent months,” said Speranza, who put the decision down to “maximum caution”.

The ban means that people who live in Italy but are currently visiting any of the 13 designated countries will not be able to return home.

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Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

It comes after Italy suspended flights from Bangladesh earlier this week following a spate of infections traced back to people flying to Rome from Dhaka.

The government had warned that more travel restrictions might follow after more than 30 cases were linked to Rome residents returning from Bangladesh, including people who hadn't travelled but had been in contact with others infected.

While Italy remains off-limits to tourists from most non-European countries, residents are allowed to return to Italy from anywhere else in the world – provided they quarantine themselves for two weeks after they land.

READ ALSO: Here are the current rules on travelling to Italy

But there is concern that travellers are failing to respect the rules, after the cases in Rome and another outbreak in the northern city of Vicenza, which was linked to a businessman who continued to socialise after a trip to Bosnia and Serbia. 

He went to a birthday party and a funeral despite developing symptoms shortly after his return and later refused to be taken into hospital, where he was subsequently admitted in serious condition. 

Partly in response to the case, which has been linked to several other infections in the surrounding region of Veneto, the local government introduced a €1,000 fine for people caught breaking quarantine rules.

While Italy's coronavirus cases have slowed dramatically since the pandemic was at its worst, new infections continue to be recorded every day and in the past few weeks clusters have broken out near Rome, Bologna and Naples

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TOURISM

US tourist fined €500 for driving on Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge

Italian police fined a Californian man after he drove a rented Fiat Panda across Florence’s iconic - and pedestrianised - Ponte Vecchio on Thursday.

US tourist fined €500 for driving on Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge

The 34-year-old man drove onto the bridge in the early afternoon of Thursday, January 26th, but was quickly stopped by police.

He reportedly told officers that he was looking for parking and wasn’t aware he was on the Ponte Vecchio, one of Florence’s most recognisable landmarks.

Completed in 1345, the bridge today is famously a narrow, cobbled walkway lined with small shops selling jewellery and souvenirs.

READ ALSO: US tourist charged with public indecency after posing naked at Amalfi Cathedral

The visitor, from California, had been planning on touring Florence by car (a rented Fiat Panda, to be exact). 

But whether he was trying to put one over local police or he just wasn’t aware of local traffic rules, his early-afternoon ride cost him dearly as he later received a total 500-euro fine for entering a pedestrian-only area and driving without an international driving permit. 

READ ALSO: ‘Americans can pay’: Italian minister says famous sites should hike entry fees

Florence recently announced a restoration project worth €2 million for the bridge – which was the only one in the city left standing after World War II.

Thursday’s incident was not the first time a tourist was caught driving across the Ponte Vecchio. 

In 2019, a 79-year-old German tourist drove onto the bridge in a rented Lamborghini sports car. After being stopped by local police, the man reportedly told officers he was “lost”.

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