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HEALTH

‘We’ll be back, but not yet’: How people are changing their Italian travel plans this summer

Staycations and quieter destinations, or cancelling trips altogether? Here's what The Local's readers are doing about their planned Italian holidays this year.

'We'll be back, but not yet': How people are changing their Italian travel plans this summer
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
There are fears for the future of many businesses as italy’s tourism industry, one of the country’s most important economic sectors, has been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis.
 
Travel restrictions imposed by Italy and other countries mean would-be visitors from many parts of the world are unsure when they’ll be able to return.
 
But fortunately for those in Italy’s tourist trade, not all visitors will be staying away this year.
 
When we asked readers if and how their Italian travel plans had changed for 2020 due to the pandemic, almost 32 percent of respondents said they still plan to visit this year.
 
 
Many of those set on visiting said they felt confident in doing so because of the precautionary measures Italy has in place, such as compulsory mask wearing in shops and on public transport.
 
Respondents who had already travelled to or within Italy this summer told us this had made them feel safe.
 
 
Brian Maynard from London, England said he arrived at his second home on Lake Como earlier in July and found “the local people are prepared for tourists and social distancing.”
 
“The use of masks is much higher than in the UK,” he noted.
 
Others however said these regulations had put them off travelling for now. As R. Rauth in the US put it: “Wearing masks all the time does not make a great vacation.”
 
Of those who said they’d still be coming this year, many stressed the importance of travelling responsibly and said they’d be carefully following the precautions.
 
Meanwhile, another 34 percent have rearranged their travel plans and now hope to visit either later this year, or in 2021.
 
“I should have travelled by train to Turin in May. This is now postponed until 2021 at the earliest,” said Mark Brook in Cheshire, UK, adding that it’s “not safe to travel.”
 
Others however said these regulations had put them off travelling for now. As R. Rauth in the US put it: “Wearing masks all the time does not make a great vacation.”
 
As well as moving their trips to later dates, readers said they had changed their itineraries or simply
booked a completely different type of Italian holiday.
 
“We postponed our holiday at a campsite in a crowded area and booked a private house with a pool in another area in Italy,” said Michel K. from the Netherlands.
 
“We’ll be back but not yet,” said Dena Lawrence, living in Irelend. “The time isn’t right. We’ve postponed indefinitely.”
 
And many readers living in Italy told us they would be staying within their regions or seeking out quiet areas for a socially-distanced staycation elsewhere in the country this year.
“We live in Italy and plan to stay in our adopted country,” wrote Stephanie Penning in Umbria.
 
“We have had more requests for our house rental from Italians this summer than ever. To us that’s an indication that more are staycationing.”
 
This matches the findings of a recent study, which showed that staycations are expected to be popular in Italy this year; while only 50 percent of residents say they plan to take a holiday in 2020, 93 percent of those will stay in the country.
 
Another 33 percent of respondents said they had cancelled their Italian travel plans completely, with the majority saying they’d been left with no choice.
 
Most of those who had cancelled were in countries from which non-urgent travel into Italy is currently banned, including the US, Australia and New Zealand.
 
“Every July we travel to Italy to stay with our family in Veneto and Le Marche. This year we cannot travel,” said Annie Carment in Australia.
 
Others who had plans to buy property or start businesses in Italy said they’d put everything on hold for now, including Steven Sommerhalder  from the US who said he was “planning on relocating and starting a b&b but this is temporarily postponed.”
 
And, as The Local reported earlier this week, while many would still travel if they could, another 40 percent of readers still feel that travel to Italy should be avoided.
 
 
Many said their main concern was about the risk of possibly bringing the infection with them – particularly readers in the US (who are not currently allowed to travel to Italy for non-urgent reasons) and the UK (who have been allowed to travel freely into Italy since June 3rd.)
 
“Too many Americans are taking the pandemic situation too lightly and not adhering to guidelines. Thus our rates are exploding. Europeans should NOT allow us in until this situation is turned around,” said Vincent Verdi in the USA, who has postponed a planned trip.
 
“They have suffered greatly in their countries and have to protect their people,” he added.

 

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Another US resident, Angelo Serra, said his trip to Italy was planned for late this year “but we decided to be respectful and are pushing it to late next summer or fall.”
 
Susan Fox in Montreal, who is waiting until next year to reschedule a holiday even though Canadian tourists have been allowed to return to Italy since July 1st, with a two-week quarantine, was also cautious despite her country having a lower infection rate.
 
“Although cases are much lower now, where I live was the epicentre in Canada so I would not want to risk inadvertently bringing the virus with me,” she said.
 
Still, some readers outside Europe remain eager to visit Italy as soon as possible.
 
“As soon as the border opens to US citizens, I am heading over,” said Donna Weiner, who has already cancelled three separate trips this year.
 
“Life must go on,” she added.
 
Thanks to everyone who took the time to complete our survey. We read all of your answers even if we couldn’t include them here.

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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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