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‘I hate masks’: Why some visitors choose not to travel to Italy this summer

With the summer holidays approaching, we asked whether our readers are planning to visit Italy this year. Most of you said yes, but a few were more hesitant.

While Italy is anticipating its largest influx of tourists since the start of the pandemic this summer, some travellers are still unsure.
While Italy is anticipating its largest influx of tourists since the start of the pandemic this summer, some travellers are still unsure. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP.

Many European countries, including Italy, are beginning to relax their Covid rules and international travel restrictions for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

As a result, Italy is anticipating its largest influx of foreign visitors in the last two years this summer, providing a much-needed boost for the country’s tourism industry.

READ ALSO: Will tourism in Italy return to pre-pandemic levels this year?

We wanted to know how many of The Local’s readers were among those planning to spend their summer holidays in Italy this year, and whether your decision was affected by the country’s remaining Covid restrictions – so we asked you. 

A total of 199 people responded to our survey asking readers if they planned on visiting Italy this summer, and the vast majority (83 percent) said yes – albeit many with reservations.

“I’m concerned that restrictions will get tighter. Fingers are crossed that the gov’t will continue to loosen restrictions,” said Benjamin Biscoglia in Chicago, who plans to visit for the first time in 20 years.

“I’m concerned about getting Covid while I’m on my tour, missing larger parts of my vacation and potentially staying in Italy until I recover from Covid,” wrote Mark Rapp in Colorado, for whom this will be his first trip to the country.

Others were unreservedly excited about their trip – and some were happy that Italy’s Covid measures are on the stricter side.

“No concerns, glad restrictions are easing!” wrote Susanna Young.

“I think Italy has done a really good job at having and enforcing restrictions and safety mandates and I hope they don’t drop things too hastily just to attract tourists,” said Elizabeth Keddy in Michigan.

The Local will soon publish a follow up article looking at the thoughts and feelings of people who will be visiting Italy this summer – but for this piece, we’re focusing on the small minority of readers who said they will continue to avoid travel to Italy altogether for time being.

Of those who said they’d removed Italy from their list of places to visit this summer, most cited the country’s ongoing Covid measures as the main reason why they won’t be holidaying in the bel paese this year.

Italy has extended its indoor mask mandate for certain venues until at least June 15th, making its mask rules more restrictive than those of most other European countries.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?

It also – like most of the rest of Europe – requires visitors coming from abroad to show a valid vaccination or recovery certificate or a recent negative Covid test result to gain entry into the country.

Some would-be tourists say they'd rather travel to a country without any mask mandates this summer.
Some would-be tourists say they’d rather travel to a country without any mask mandates this summer. Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

“(I) don’t want to go on holiday where I might have to wear a face mask even in certain settings,” said Riccardo Mangiacavallo in Toronto, while one anonymous respondent agreed: “I find the mask requirement too oppressive.”

“Italy is an international outlier in continuing to mandate masks, specifically the uncomfortable FFP2 type,” said another anonymous writer, adding that they would rather go on holiday to a country like Switzerland or Denmark which has dispensed with mask mandates.

The complaint wasn’t restricted to those who said they were avoiding travel to Italy: Elizabeth Johnson, who is planning to travel to Tuscany and Genoa, said simply: “I hate masks”.

READ ALSO: Where do you still need to wear a mask in Italy from May 1st?

Others worried about the risk that Italy could change the rules after they’d booked, ruining their plans.

“I think they may be keen to pose restrictions again,” said Peter Biggins in Leeds, who added that regardless of whether or not the government did change the rules, masks would “ruin the experience” for him.

“For travellers from North America it could be a financial disaster. The uncertainty is too big and the risk is too high,” said Yuri Matis in Toronto.

Some readers said they wouldn’t consider returning to Italy until all Covid restrictions were dropped, saying that the rules add too much stress to the “already complex process of international travel”.

A number of those surveyed said their concerns revolved more around entry rules for return to the US than Italian Covid restrictions.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What Covid-19 rules are now in place in Italy?

“We are avoiding because of the current US requirement for a negative test to re-enter the United States. We strongly prefer NOT to be trapped abroad. We are very much less concerned about Italy’s current restrictions,” said Jennifer Horinek in California.

“US testing requirements for re-entry keeping me away,” echoed Denise Alexander in Texas.

For a few respondents, however, it was Covid itself, rather than Covid restrictions, that remained a cause for concern.

“Because of Covid, not just the measures,” wrote one anonymous reader in answer to the question of why they were avoiding travel to Italy for the time being.

“We continue to worry about Covid. We love Italy and I would much like to get back to Puglia but Covid worries hold us back,” said David Dowell in Portland.

Member comments

  1. An unhinged country dominated by socialist groupthink, un paese arretrato. A nation once loved for its wonky civil disobedience, is now following the worst norms of the new world order and sleepwalking into Euro tyranny. When Italians wake up they’ll be ruled by a digital-ID system and then it’ll be too late. If there is one reason to give up residency and move somewhere else it is this dramatic shift in the make-up of the Italian DNA. Such a pity. Where is the dolce vita, the delicious civil disobedience? Crushed by the faceless politicians and their relentless pursuit of the fear narrative aided by an entirely left-wing press.

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COVID-19 RULES

Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

It will still be obligatory for passengers to wear masks on flights to Italy until mid-June, despite the end of the EU-wide requirement on Monday, May 16th, the Italian government has confirmed.

Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

The Italian government reiterated on Friday that its current mask-wearing rules remain in place until June 15th, reports newspaper Corriere della Sera.

This means the mask mandate will still apply to all air passengers travelling to or from Italy, despite the end of an EU-wide requirement to wear masks on flights and at airports across the bloc from Monday.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?

National regulations take precedence, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed when announcing the end of the EU rules.

“Wearing face masks at airports and inflight should be aligned with national measures on wearing masks in public transport and transport hubs,” they said in a joint statement published on May 11th.

READ ALSO: Why are so many Italians still wearing face masks in shops?

“If either the departure or destination States require the wearing of face masks on public transport, aircraft operators should require passengers and crew to comply with those requirements inflight, beyond 16 May 2022.

“Further, as of 16 May 2022, aircraft operators, during their pre-flight communications as well as during the flight, should continue to encourage their passengers and crew members to wear face masks during the flight as well as in the airport, even when wearing a face mask is not required”.

The Spanish government also said on Thursday that air passengers would have to continue wearing face masks on planes.

Italy’s current rules specify that higher-grade FFP2 masks should be worn on all forms of public transport, including buses, trams, regional and high-speed trains, ferries, and planes.

Though rules were eased in some settings from May 1st, masks also remain a requirement until June 15th at Italy’s cinemas and theatres, hospitals and care homes, indoor sporting event and concert venues, schools and universities.

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