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TOURISM

Covid-19: Italy suggests restarting tourism from June 2nd

Italy’s government is looking at easing coronavirus restrictions in a “major way” in May and could reopen tourism businesses in June, ministers said on Thursday 

Covid-19: Italy suggests restarting tourism from June 2nd
Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday evening, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi confirmed that no date has been set in stone for the restart of tourism in Italy this summer.

However, he said he hoped that the tourism minister’s suggested date in June would be possible.

“Let’s hope so, maybe even earlier, who knows,” Draghi said, stressing that the summer season has not been “abandoned”.

“June 2nd is a national holiday and that could be the time,” Italy’s Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia had told the Omnibus show on Italian TV channel La7 earlier on Thursday.

READ ALSO: How soon can Italy hope to restart tourism this summer?

“There is a very ideological debate on reopening,” he said. “There is no black or white. But it would be wrong to give only negative signals, because the economy also runs on expectations.” Garavaglia said.

He stressed that advance planning was needed for reopening the Italian tourism sector – among those hardest hit by coronavirus lockdown measures.

“There are businesses that can be opened overnight such as barber shops,” he said. “Others can’t, like the big hotels. We have to monitor the health data and, on that basis, open as soon as possible.”

Regional Affairs Minister Mariastella Gelmini meanwhile told a wedding industry conference on Thursday that Italy’s restrictions will be eased in a “major way” during May, adding that some limitations “may be dropped” as early as April 20th.

The suggested timeline for reopening, which has not been officially confirmed, appears similar to that followed in 2020 when businesses gradually reopened throughout April and May following a strict lockdown lasting almost three months.

People sunbathe on the beach in Ostia, west of Rome, in May 2020 as the country eased its first lockdown. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP.

Last year’s reopening of tourism was possible, ministers said, as Italy recorded a drastic reduction in the number of coronavirus transmissions.

However, international travel and some tourism-related businesses, such as nightclubs, were later blamed for part of the resurgence of the virus in late summer.

Garavaglia insisted that this year would be different.

“Last year we did not know what we were up against,” he told La7. “This time we have past experience and a vaccination plan that is making progress.”

READ ALSO: Can I travel to Italy if I’ve had both doses of the Covid vaccine?

“We are working sector by sector to give specific dates ”.

Garavaglia did not state whether tourism from non-European countries might be allowed this year, and he did not indicate whether or not Italy plans to join the European “health passport” scheme.

The ministers’ statements came after business owners and workers affected by the ongoing restrictions have staged a series of protests across many Italian cities earlier this week, including one demonstration outside the parliament building in Rome on Tuesday that descended into violence.

Non-essential travel into Italy remains heavily restricted for most non-EU countries, and testing and/or quarantine is a requirement for all arrivals.

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The whole of Italy remains under tightened restrictions until at least the end of April, with all non-essential travel between towns and regions forbidden and a nightly curfew in place.

Museums, galleries, theatres and concert halls are all closed, and bars and restaurants cannot serve customers on the premises. 

And in the nine regions of Italy that are currently designated ‘red’ zones under maximum restrictions, most shops are closed and you’re not even supposed to leave home except for essentials.

Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to advise residents to avoid travelling abroad if possible, warning that new restrictions may be introduced at short notice in response to rising cases or new variants.

For now, Italy’s vaccination rate remains slower than expected, while the country continues to report a higher death toll than neighbouring European countries.

Find more information about travel to or from Italy on the Health Ministry’s website (in English).

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STRIKES

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travellers are once again set to face serious disruption as Italy will experience a new round of transport strikes in February. Here's what you can expect in the coming weeks.

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travel to, from and across Italy was disrupted by dozens of strikes in January

And, while many travellers might have hoped for a change in the trend, strikes are set to continue into February as Italian unions have already announced a further round of demonstrations affecting rail and public transport services as well as airline travel.

Here’s an overview of February’s main strike actions, including a national public transport strike on Friday, February 17th and another nationwide walkout from airport ground staff on Tuesday, February 28th.

Public transport

February 17th: Public transport staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Friday, February 17th. 

The strike was called in late January by Italian union USB (Unione Sindacale di Base) to protest against precarious work and “wild privatisation” attempts on the part of the Italian state.

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

There currently aren’t any details as to what percentage of workers will take part in the action. As such, the amount of disruption travellers should expect on the day cannot be estimated yet. 

Air travel

February 12th: Air traffic control staff at Perugia’s San Francesco d’Assisi airport will take part in a 24-hour strike action on Sunday, February 12th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the walkout in question will affect air travel to and from the airport on the day.

Travellers at an Italian airport

A national strike from ground service staff may cause delays and queues at many Italian airports on Tuesday, February 28th. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

February 28th: Baggage handlers and other airport ground service staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Tuesday, February 28th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the strike will affect air travel during the day, though a similar demonstration caused significant delays and queues at some Italian airports in late January.

ENAV air traffic operators based in Calabria are also expected to strike on February 28th, with the walkout set to start at 1pm and end at 5pm.

Rail

February 5th-6th: Calabria-based Trenitalia staff will strike from 9pm on Sunday, February 5th to 9pm the following day. 

A list of guaranteed services in the region is available here.

February 9th: Staff from Lombardy’s Trenord will take part in a 22-hour strike – from 2am to 11.50pm – on Thursday, February 9th.

Empty train platform in Codogno, Lombardy

Staff from Lombardy’s regional railway operator Trenord will strike for 22 hours on Thursday, February 9th. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

It’s currently unclear whether Trenord will operate minimum services on the day. Any information regarding the strike will be released on the following website page

February 12th-13th: Trenitalia staff in Emilia-Romagna will strike from 3.30am on Sunday, February 12th to 2.30am on Monday, February 13th.

A list of guaranteed services in the region is available here.

February 19th: Veneto-based Trenitalia staff will strike from 9am to 5pm on Sunday, February 19th. 

Guaranteed services are available here.

On the same day, there will be no service between Milan’s Milano Centrale station and Paris’s Gare de Lyon due to a strike from staff at France’s national railway company SNCF.

READ ALSO: Trains and planes: Italy’s new international travel routes in 2023

February 20th: Trenitalia personnel in Lombardy are expected to strike from 9am to 5pm on Monday, February 20th. 

Guaranteed services haven’t been made available yet. 

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

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