United Kingdom

Italy reopens to tourists as quarantine restrictions are dropped from today

Italy has reopened its borders to tourists from Europe, three months after they were shut as the country went into coronavirus lockdown. 

From today, travellers from most other European countries will be allowed in with no quarantine and people will be allowed to move freely between regions. 

Three airports - Rome, Milan and Naples - will resume international arrivals, with flights scheduled to depart from Heathrow and Manchester today.

Italy has reopened its borders to tourists from Schengen-zone countries and the UK from today, with no quarantine restrictions in place (pictured, tourists at the Coliseum in Rome)

Italy is trying to salvage its lucrative summer tourist season by allowing travellers from Europe into the country without restrictions starting today (pictured, a tour guide in Rome)

However, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office still advises against all-but essential travel abroad.

Travellers also face being quarantined for 14 days on arrival back in the UK, though those rules will only apply from June 8.

Before then, travellers are merely being asked to quarantine with no spot-checks or penalties for breaking the rules.

Once in Italy, travellers will face restrictions imposed on all Italians which include observing social distance, wearing a mask in public, and a ban on large gatherings. 

Italy, like many other European countries, is desperately trying to revive its tourism industry in time for the lucrative summer season.

But there are fears that the country's role as a former epicentre of the virus, along with restrictions in other countries, will stop travellers from coming.  

Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus and has officially reported more than 33,000 deaths.

Travellers will not be forced to quarantine on arrival, but will be asked to follow social distancing rules and to wear a mask in public at all times (pictured, a man at Fiumicino airport)

An airport security member wears a protective face mask at Fiumicino airport, as it prepares to accept travellers when lockdown rules relax today

Passengers wearing protective face masks stand with their luggage at Fiumicino Airport as Italy eases its lockdown measures further

It imposed an economically crippling lockdown in early March and has since seen its contagion numbers drop off dramatically.

With the country facing its deepest recession since World War II, it needs foreigners to return, and quickly.

But it is still reporting dozens of new cases a day, particularly in the northern Lombardy region, and experts warn the government may be being hasty in permitting travel between regions and abroad.

International flights were only expected to resume in three main cities: Milan, Rome and Naples.

And there were concerns that those who usually come in by car, train or ferry from neighbouring countries would go elsewhere on their holidays.

Switzerland has warned its citizens that if they go to Italy they will be subject to 'health measures' on their return. The country will open its borders with Germany, France and Austria on June 15, but not with Italy.

Austria is lifting restrictions in mid-June with Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary - but again, not Italy, described last week by Vienna's health minister as 'still a hotspot'.

Other countries, such as Belgium and Britain, are still advising against, or forbidding, all non-essential travel abroad.

In response to perceived anti-Italian sentiment, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has warned countries not to treat Italy 'like a leper'.

Travel restrictions between Italian regions have also been dropped, allowing people to move around freely and without a permit

A railway worker checks the temperatures of arriving passengers at Milan's main train station after restrictions on travel between regions were dropped

He said Saturday he would be travelling to Germany, Slovenia and Greece to persuade them Italy is safe for foreign tourists.

Arrivals in Italy from Europe will not be required to self-isolate unless they have recently travelled from another continent.

Italy's lockdown has had a particularly devastating effect on the tourism sector, which amounts to some 13 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Historic sites were shut, restaurants closed, and hotels were used to care for coronavirus sick.

Restaurants, cafes and beach establishments have slowly reopened over the past two weeks - although the government has said it reserves the right to impose localised lockdowns if it sees contagion numbers rise.

But only 40 of Rome's 1,200 hotels have reopened, the Corriere della Sera newspaper said Monday, and just a dozen in Milan. It costs too much to open them if they will just stand empty.

'My hoteliers all want to reopen, but as long as the borders remain closed, it's not possible,' Marco Michielli, deputy head of hoteliers' association Federalberghi, said Saturday.

Italy's national tourism agency (ENIT) said some 40 percent of Italians traditionally travel abroad for their holidays, but could be forced this year to vacation at home, helping local businesses.

That may be little comfort to those running the country's costly historic sites, because most of the tens of thousands of visitors that usually flock daily to the Tower of Pisa, Pantheon or Pompeii come from abroad.

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