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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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TOURISM

TRAVEL: Why Venice is named among Europe’s cheapest city break destinations

The Italian city of Venice has been named the third-cheapest place for a city break in Europe - a survey result that might surprise some visitors. Here’s why it may not be as costly as you'd think.

TRAVEL: Why Venice is named among Europe’s cheapest city break destinations

A new survey of 100 different cities in Europe by the Omio transport booking website has revealed that Venice is the third-cheapest destination for a city escape, in terms of being the most affordable and having the highest number of free activities and attractions.

The ranking will no doubt come as a surprise to many, due to the city’s reputation as an expensive destination geared towards luxury travel – and the fact that Venetian residents have been leaving the city’s historic centre in droves partly due to high housing costs.

The objective of the study was to identify the best tourist destinations to visit on a reduced budget, due to the current economic climate of inflation and rising prices affecting almost all daily costs.

It also aimed to show tourists that they can save a lot of money if they organise their travel by taking advantage of free offers and opportunities, as well as thinking carefully about where they go.

“Believe it or not, it is possible to have a cheap holiday in Venice,” the study’s authors wrote, advising travellers to “follow a few simple tricks to turn some of Venice’s most expensive places into low-budget havens”. 

READ ALSO: How much does it really cost to live in Venice?

Venice was found to have a total of 136 free tourist attractions, 22 free museums, and 58 guided tours rated as “affordable”. The study also highlighted the city’s 186 public drinking fountains, which local authorities this summer urged visitors to use in order to cut down on bottled water purchases. 

The study however did not include the cost of accommodation, and it put the cost of a 24-hour public transport ticket in Venice at €21.88: several times higher than the prices listed for other cities at the top of the ranking.

Venice is promoting the use of its network of water fountains amid efforts to combat plastic waste. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

The average price of a beer in the floating city also seemed comparatively high at €4.38, though this was below the European average price of €4.91.

Travellers can expect a meal for two in an average restaurant to set them back around €61 – that is, as long as they don’t wander into any of the tourist traps notorious for rip-off prices.

READ ALSO: Nine ways to get into trouble while visiting Venice

Overall Venice got a score of 82.3 percent to take third place, whilst Bruges in Belgium came in second with 93.6 percent and Granada was first with 100 percent.

Further surprises came in the ranking for other Italian cities: Florence was rated the 10th cheapest European city break destination, with 113 free attractions, 17 museums with free entrance, and a 24-hour public transport ticket costing 4 euros.

Meanwhile Naples – where the cost of living is comparatively low – was rated as being slightly more expensive to visit, in 12th place. Tuscan tourist hotspot Pisa came in 13th place, while the northern city of Turin was 23rd.

Milan was 30th on the list, which the study said has 372 free tourist attractions, but higher costs for food and drink

Rome came in 37th place – despite the survey saying the capital has a huge 553 free attractions, 34 free museums, and ten times more public drinking fountains than Venice (1,867).

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