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HEALTH

TRAVEL: Italy will bring back quarantine rule for UK arrivals ‘if necessary’, says PM

Italy is not yet prepared to restrict travel from the UK despite the rise in Covid-19 cases caused by the Delta variant, the prime minister said on Monday.

TRAVEL: Italy will bring back quarantine rule for UK arrivals ‘if necessary’, says PM
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

**UPDATE: Italy on Friday June 18th announced new quarantine rules for UK arrivals. See the latest news here.**

“We test those who enter Italy. If infections start to rise again, [Italy] too should reinstate the quarantine for those arriving from England. But we’re not there yet,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said following a press conference at the end of the G7 meeting in the UK, Rai reports.

The British government is set to announce on Monday that a planned easing of lockdown restrictions will be pushed back by four weeks, according to the BBC, amid a rapid rise in cases of the Delta variant first detected in India.

Asked if Italy was also looking at changing its reopening plan this summer, Draghi said: “For now, there’s no reason to think that this will happen.”

READ ALSO: What you need to know if you’re travelling to Italy in summer 2021

“It depends a lot on the contagion rate, if infections should shoot up … but this is not what we’re seeing in other European countries,” he added, pointing out that “Spain and Greece do not require quarantine from England.”

France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria however last month put quarantine rules and other tough travel restrictions back in place for travellers from the UK amid concerns about Delta

Spain on the other hand removed all restrictions for British tourists. From May 24th, UK holidaymakers can visit Spain without the need for any testing or quarantine. 

Italy has banned travel from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka amid concern over the spread of the Delta variant in those countries.

But, while Italy has not completely dropped rules on UK travel (a negative PCR or antigen test result is still required), the government appears reluctant to put further restrictions in place at the start of the lucrative tourist season.

Travel to Italy from the UK is far from straightforward already, as British ‘amber list’ rules require a ten-day quarantine on arrival from Italy and the purchase of travel-testing kits which cost around £200 per person. There are also fewer flights operating than expected.

Stopping tourism from the UK altogether this summer would cost Italy 1.5 billion euros in lost revenue, according to analysis by Coldiretti, the industry group representing Italian agriculture.

READ ALSO: What Covid-19 tests do I need for travel between Italy and the UK?

Tourism has now restarted in Italy from some countries, including the UK: Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

Italian health officials had previously said they believed vaccines may be able to mitigate the impact of Delta and any other new strains of coronavirus.

Italian deputy health minister Pierpaolo Sileri told Radio 24 in late May that he was not worried about the Indian variant for two reasons: “The first is that there is no evidence that it is resistant to vaccines, and the second, more general, is that research has made great strides in creating safe and effective vaccines.”

“Even if a variant emerged that could partially resist them, we would be able to respond,” he said.

However, in the UK, public health officials are now concerned about the Delta variant because it “partially evades vaccines, is at least 40% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, and appears to double the risk of hospitalisation”, the BBC reports.

READ ALSO: Europe remains at risk of autumn Covid resurgence, WHO warns

Though Italy’s vaccination campaign has accelerated and improved in recent months, only around one quarter of the population is fully immunised at the moment, the latest government data shows.

In Italy, 172 cases are known to have been caused by the Delta variant so far according to the Gisaid database. Alpha (or B.1.1.7)  is still the dominant variant, accounting for some 93 percent of cases in the country according to the latest Italian government data.

However, Italy collects and analyses far less data on new virus strains than the UK does, meaning that the picture in Italy is incomplete and it’s hard to compare information from the two countries.

So far in Italy only 1.11% of all positive swab tests have been sequenced to identify the strain.

For more information on international travel to and from Italy, see the Foreign Ministry’s website.

Please note The Local is not able to give advice on individual cases.

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VENICE

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

Venice is introducing a new system to discourage day-trippers in hopes of curbing problems with overtourism in the popular hotspot. Here is what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

After years of discussing a possible “tourist tax”, the city of Venice has confirmed it will make day-trippers pay from €3 to €10 for access to the city centre starting on January 16th.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the goal of the new tourism fee is to discourage day tourism at certain times of the year and encourage overnight tourism. Day-trippers will have to pay a fee, but those who stay overnight continue only to have to pay the city tax of €2 to €5, according to a government press release.

The Commission and the City Council will now examine the regulatory text for the final green light scheduled for the summer.

“We are the first in the world to introduce this system, and we are aware that not everything will work well from the beginning, but we will be ready to improve in the course of work. We want to guarantee the tourist the best quality of the visit and make sure that the city is able to give visitors all the services they need”, said Tourism Secretary Simone Venturini.

READ ALSO: After flooding and coronavirus, is it time Venice stopped relying on tourism?

How much will I have to pay?

The contributo di acesso, or access contribution, will cost from €3 to €10, depending on factors such as tourism numbers for the day and season.

The city will determine a certain threshold of tourists, after which people will be required to pay higher sums. Travellers are encouraged to book in advance to avoid price increases.

Does the payment have to be made in advance?

The government said that nobody would be denied entry to Venice, meaning a pre-registration is not necessary. However, the mayor said that those who book their visit in advance would be “rewarded”. The reward will likely discount the fee.

How will the system work? Where do I pay?

According to the City of Venice, the payment is an alternative to the city tax. It will be required from every person that goes to the old city centre of Venice, as well as other major tourist destinations and islands in the region.

READ ALSO: 16 surprising facts about Venice to mark 16 centuries of the lagoon city

A single payment guarantees access to the old town and the smaller islands.

Tourists will be able to pay through an online and “multilingual” platform where they will receive a QR code to present in case of controls. Tickets should also be available to buy in connection with public transport – so if you are arriving by train, it will be possible to buy the train ticket and the entry pass together.

Who is excluded or exempt from the payment?

There are several exceptions to the payment, according to the website. Among them are residents from the Comune di Venezia, those who work or study there, and those who own homes in the city.

Additionally, exceptions include those born in the Comune di Venezia, children under six years of age, people with disabilities and their accompanying person, public workers, volunteers, people visiting family members, prisoners, or attending funerals, and many others.

Residents of the Veneto region “up to the thresholds that will be set by a specific Council resolution” are also exempt.

Those who stay overnight and, therefore, already pay the city tax through their hotel or short-term rental booking are also exempt from the fee.

The city of Murano, in the metropolitan region of Venice (Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash)

What about people arriving on cruises?

Venice is a very popular stop for cruise ships and people visiting the city on a cruise tour will also have to pay the fee as they disembark in the old town. However, the City of Venice said they might determine a lump-sum measure in agreement with the relevant carriers.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why more of Italy’s top destinations must limit tourist numbers

Which smaller islands are included?

Only one ticket and payment is required for those travelling to multiple islands, including Venice. The islands that are part of the group are:

  • Lido di Venezia
  • Pellestrina
  • Murano
  • Burano
  • Torcello
  • Sant’Erasmo
  • Mazzorbo
  • Mazzorbetto
  • Vignole
  • S. Andrea
  • La certosa
  • S. Servolo
  • S. Clemente
  • Poveglia

What if I simply don’t pay?

If you fail to produce proof of payment or that you are exempt from the fee, the sanction is from €50 to €300. The fine is the same in the case of people making false statements trying to obtain exemptions or reductions.

Additionally, visitors who don’t pay in advance will have to pay the full €10 fee.

For more info click here.

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