Covid-19: Italy extends regional travel ban until end of March

Prime Minister Mario Draghi's cabinet on Monday approved a decree extending the existing ban on travel between all regions until March 27th.

Covid-19: Italy extends regional travel ban until end of March
Only essential travel is allowed between Italy's regions. Photo: AFP
The ban, part of nationwide restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus, was brought in by the past government and had been set to expire on Thursday.
The government also extended restrictions on visiting friends and relatives, under which no more than two adults can visit another person's home.
“It is essential to continue with the restrictions with the (spread of coronavirus) variants,” said Italy's health minister, Roberto Speranza.
The inter-regional travel ban was due to expire on February 25th, after it had already been extended once this month.

The ban applies to all non-essential travel between all regions, regardless of which zone they are in under Italy's tiered system of coronavirus restrictions.

The regional travel ban does not apply to travel for work, health or emergency reasons, or to anyone who needs to travel to return home.

Travel within Italy for tourism remains prohibited.

The government also extended a rule under which no more than two adults (plus their children under 14) can visit another household, and no more than once a day. However the rule has not been extended for areas declared red zones, meaning visits will no longer be allowed in those areas.

READ ALSO: How will Italy's Covid-19 strategy change under the new government?

Further changes to the Italian coronavirus restrictions are set to be confirmed by March 5th, when an updated emergency decree is due.

Regional Affairs Minister Maria Stella Gelmini stated on Monday that Draghi's government would make “timely” decisions on coronavirus restrictions in agreement with regional governments.

The new government last week provoked an outcry when it extended the closure of ski slopes just hours before they were due to reopen.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”