Italian prime minister Guiseppe Conte revealed travellers from European Union countries will soon be allowed to enter Italy without going into mandatory quarantine.
The next phase in Italy’s lowering of coronavirus lockdown measures will see international borders reopen across the country, according to a statement from Conte on Saturday.
It comes as shops and restaurants reopened this week, ahead of the unveiling of further freedoms that would allow Italians to no longer require justification for travel within their own region and visit friends and family, according to Skift.
“People will be able to go wherever they want – to a shop, to the mountains, to a lake or the seaside,” Conte said.
A ban on travel between regions and abroad will reportedly remain in place until after Italy’s Republic Day holiday, on 2 June, preventing any mass travel over the long holiday weekend.
However, all travel curbs will be lifted from 3 June, and travellers from European Union countries will be able to enter without going into quarantine, offering hope ahead of the summer season to the tourism sector, which is worth 13 per cent of the country’s GDP.
It comes as COVID-19 deaths in Italy – the third-highest in the world at 31,800 – fell to 153 per day on Saturday, reportedly their lowest levels since 9 March.
Conte said the decision to lift curbs was a “calculated risk”.
“We’re facing this risk and we have to accept it, because otherwise we will never get started again,” he said.
Italy’s national hotel federation said that by April the sector had already shed 106,000 jobs, with occupancy dropping by 99 per cent for foreigners and 96 per cent for Italians, as reported by the Associated Press.
Another half a million jobs are expected to be put at risk if the summer season does not take off.
Furthermore, with its economy facing severe recession and public debt expected to spiral to more than 150 per cent of its annual economic output, according to Skift, the government has been desperate to get the country back to work without triggering a second coronavirus wave.
Conte advised that people in quarantine or suffering from COVID-19 symptoms would have to remain in isolation, while social distancing rules will continue to apply. Citizens are still advised to wear masks inside or on crowded streets.
However, although Italy’s borders are expected to reopen on 3 June, other European nations are encouraging their citizens not to travel overseas until later.
Germany, whose border is around a four-hour drive from Venice through Austria, is instructing citizens not to travel abroad for tourism until at least 15 June, the Associated Press reported.
While officials in neighbouring France have reportedly made it clear that they had sought a coordinated European effort on border openings, indicating Italy had “jumped the gun”.
Featured image: iStock/tunart