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Italian cruises won’t restart until May due to latest lockdown, says Costa Cruises

Italian cruise line Costa Cruises will not resume sailing until May, the company has announced, due to travel restrictions linked to the third wave of coronavirus.

Italian cruises won't restart until May due to latest lockdown, says Costa Cruises
A Costa Cruise liner towers over Venice. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

The company, which is owned by Carnival, pushed back its relaunch date from March 27th to May 1st.

Anti-coronavirus measures in Italy “do not allow us to offer passengers a travel experience that meets expectations”, especially regarding excursions, the company said in a statement on Monday.

Faced with a rise in Covid-19 infections, Italy put most of its territory under a new lockdown last Monday.

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The Costa Smeralda cruise liner will be the first to launch on May 1st, with trips lasting three to seven days in Italy, with stops in Savona, La Spezia, Civitavecchia, Naples, Messina and Cagliari.

“Health conditions permitting,” the Costa Smeralda will also resume its week-long cruises in the western Mediterranean starting June 12th, with stops in Italy (Savona, Civitavecchia and Palermo), France (Marseille) and Spain (Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca).

Another ship, the Costa Luminosa, is scheduled to depart from Trieste on May 16th for a week-long cruise to Greece and Croatia.

Neither Costa nor its biggest Italian rival, MSC Cruises, have sailed from Venice since the pandemic first pushed Italy to restrict travel last spring.

To the relief of campaigners who have long tried to stop giant liners entering the fragile Venetian lagoon, cruise companies have switched their departures to the bigger ports of Genoa and Trieste.

READ ALSO: ‘New model’: How Florence and Venice plan to rebuild tourism after the coronavirus crisis

Photo: Andrea Pattaro / AFP

The cruise industry has been badly hit by international travel restrictions, as well as safety concerns after several Covid-19 outbreaks aboard ships.

Costa said it would follow a strict health protocol, including limiting the number of passengers, tests for all passengers and crew, temperature-taking on board and at disembarkation and the wearing of masks when required.

The Costa Deliziosa had resumed sailing in September after a five-month break due to the epidemic, calling only at Italian ports. But after Italy’s government decided to ban cruises during the holiday season, Costa Cruises on December 20th suspended its voyages.

Before the pandemic, Italy’s 14.5-billion-euro cruise industry — Europe’s largest — supported nearly 53,000 jobs, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. 

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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.”

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