Thursday 28.05.2020

Italy to allow travel to and from abroad from 3 June

Italian shops are due to open on 18 May and people will be allowed to visit friends.
A woman wearing a face mask walks in a street in Taormina, Italy. Photo: Reuters/Antonio Parrinello.
A woman wearing a face mask walks in a street in Taormina, Italy. Photo: Reuters/Antonio Parrinello.

Italy, one of the countries that have suffered the most from the coronavirus, is also making progress in its particular de-escalation process.

Italian government on Saturday approved a decree which will allow travel to and from abroad from 3 June, in a major development as it moves to unwind one of the world's most rigid coronavirus lockdowns.

The government will allow free travel across the country from that same day. Some regions had pushed for a swifter rollback, but Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has insisted on a gradual return to normal to prevent a second wave of infections.

More than 31,600 Italians have died of Covid-19 since the outbreak came to light on 21 February, the third-highest death toll in the world after that of the United States and Britain.

In a bid to contain the contagion, Italy was the first European country to impose nationwide restrictions in March, only sanctioning an initial relaxation of the rules on May 4, when it allowed factories and parks to reopen.

Shops and restaurants to reopen

Shops are due to open on 18 May and the government decided that all movement within individual regions should be allowed that same day, meaning people will be able to visit friends.

The inter-regional and foreign travel ban will remain in place until after Italy's 2 June Republic Day holiday, preventing any mass travel over that long-holiday weekend.

But all travel curb will be lifted from 3 June - a major milestone on Italy's road to recovery, with the government hoping to salvage the forthcoming vacation season, when Italians traditionally escape the cities for their annual summer breaks.

The regions can reactivate all sectors of the economy that might still be shuttered, so long as safety protocols are followed. National health authorities will monitor the situation to make sure infections are kept in check, the decree said.

Shops and restaurants across the country are preparing to reopen under strict social distancing and hygiene rules, as recommended by health authorities.

Alberto Volpe, manager of a clothing shop in the center of the capital city, Rome, explains how Italian entrepreneurs feel at this stage of the pandemic de-escalation process:

"The challenge is huge, so big it is hard to quantify, and most of all there is uncertainty. The sense of uncertainty is dominating everything," he says.