When will Italy let tourists in?
May 18, 2020
1. When will Italy let tourists in?
Italy has been relaxing its lockdown rules gradually since the 4th of May. In the first phase Italian residents were allowed to travel outside their province – but still needed to carry a written explanation of where they were going and why, with only strictly necessary trips allowed.
Starting today, the 18th of May, travel is again allowed within each region (remember that Italy has 20 of these — Veneto, Piedmont, Tuscany, Sicily, etc).
From the 3rd of June, if the infection rates remain under control, Italy will allow citizens of some other EU countries to visit without imposing a 14 day period of self-isolation. At the moment, we only see verified information regarding visitors from Malta, Cyprus, Greece, Slovenia, Portugal, Germany, Spain and Croatia. The US is not in the list – and logically speaking, other EU countries will be next, followed by countries outside Europe. How this will unfold is anyone’s guess. Certainly Italy will base its decisions partly on how the Covid situation is developing in other parts of the world.
Finally, if everything goes according to plan, by the 15th of June, cinemas, theaters, sports events and similar will re-open.
2. What will the experience be like?
While travel restrictions are being relaxed there are a number of rules that will still have to be observed – though we imagine that some will be relaxed if the contagion levels continue to drop.
Public officials can still take your temperature any time you’re in a public space, and you must consent.
Physical distancing must still be observed, including in restaurants, bars and shops. Many restaurants have already installed plexi-glass separators to keep diners at a distance. Shops and restaurants must keep records of visitors for 14 days (unclear how they will manage to gather all this data). Bookings to be “privileged” over walk-ins and all staff to wear face-masks. Clients must also wear face-masks when they’re not sitting at their table.
Villa holidays may be more attractive than Hotel stays in these early days. There are a lot of rules – as you’d expect – about managing communal spaces in hotels. Luckily all of these don’t apply if you’re staying in your private villa. But cleaning must be more in depth between guests, and checking in and checking out will need to be done following physical-distancing rules.
Will museums be open? There is a great desire to re-open museums but it may well be taken on a case by case basis depending on the size and popularity of the venue. For example, in Rome, La Galleria Nazionale, Italy’s national museum of modern art, opened today. This should be followed tomorrow by the reopening of three of Rome’s most important municipal museums: the Capitoline Museums, Palazzo delle Esposizioni (with its Jim Dine show) and Museo di Roma-Palazzo Braschi (with the Canova exhibition extended until 21 June). Consider that even after their opening, certain museums will likely keep closed those areas where it’s nearly impossible to maintain physical distancing during a visit. Think of the Secret Itineraries visit of Venice’s Ducal Palace, or the climb to the top of Florence’s Dome.
3. What will travel be like?
Flying. Airports will have to change the check-in processes and procedures – many already have. There are distances to be observed and hand-sanitizing stations before and after the security screening. Personal items, like wallets or belts, should be put inside your hand-luggage, and not on the tray. Flight attendants will wear masks and there may well be greatly reduced food and drink (none for shorter haul) served on board.
Past the airport. Travelers may not use public transport – so booking a car and driver will be less of a choice and more of a requirement.
4. When will self-isolation upon return from international travel no longer be required?
This depends on the US government. At the moment the advice is to self-isolate for 14 days regardless of whether you show symptoms of Covid-19. The relevant official CDC page is here .
5. Should I consider travel later this year?
The big question. Our feeling is that, barring the re-emergence of the virus in the fall, travel should be possible; and, as the situation improves, it will become easier. Many plans are in the works to begin safely offering Italy’s vibrant pre-COVID lifestyle. So the squeeze point is the journey and for that we have to see what the airlines propose and how easy and safe air-travel is. Of course, there are those who will choose NOT to travel until there’s a cure or a vaccine against COVID-19.