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US warns against travel to Italy due to ‘very high’ Covid numbers

The United States on Wednesday increased its travel warning for Italy to the highest level due to its ‘very high’ coronavirus figures.

US warns against travel to Italy due to ‘very high’ Covid numbers
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

“Do not travel to Italy due to Covid-19,” wrote the US Department of State on its website.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Italy due to Covid-19, indicating a very high level of Covid-19 in the country.”

READ ALSO: What’s the latest news on the coronavirus situation in Italy?

It also stated that travellers to Italy should “exercise increased caution” due to terrorism activity, a warning which had already been in place.

Prior to Tuesday of this week, the State Department listed 34 of about 200 countries worldwide with the “Do Not Travel” warning, and has since increased the number to 150 countries based on the recommendations of the CDC.

Almost all European countries were placed on the Level 4 list this week, including France, Spain, Germany and Switzerland.

The warning does not bar Americans from travel to these countries, however the Department of State warns that insurance policies may not be valid.

Most Americans already had been prevented from traveling to much of Europe because of Covid-19 restrictions. Washington has barred nearly all non-US citizens who have recently been in most of Europe, China, Brazil, Iran and South Africa.

READ ALSO: When will Americans be allowed to travel to Italy again?

Italy has banned non-essential travel for Americans, and makes only a small number of exceptions, including for people with EU residency and business travelers.

All travelers, including from the US, face quarantine and testing requirements once they arrive in Italy – except for those who arrive on special ‘Covid-tested’ US flights, who do not need to quarantine on arrival if they test negative.

The US on Tuesday also extended its travel ban on non-US citizens by 30 days. The restrictions have already been in place for 13 months.

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TRAVEL NEWS

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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