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When Can I Travel To Italy Again? – (UPDATED May 2020)

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Italy Travel Update - The latest information on International Travel from the USA.

On May 16th, Italy announced it would open its borders on June 3rd – only for EU member countries, Schengen Zone countries, the UK, and a few other neighboring countries. It will also remove the 14-day quarantine for people arriving from outside the country unless you test positive for COVID-19 or have had close contact with people with the virus.

Italy may begin allowing non-EU residents to enter the country as early as June 15, 2020 – but that does not include the USA and Italy has yet to determine when US residents would be allowed entry. 

As of May 18th, Italy is allowing restaurants and shops to reopen, residents can now travel to visit friends and family.  Gyms and swimming pools are slated to reopen on May 25th. Cinemas and theaters can reopen on June 15th.

It is unknown if airlines will start flying to Italy anytime soon. Alitalia (Delta code-share) is currently flying to Milan and Rome from New York and Los Angeles but it is unclear if additional flights will be added once the restrictions are lifted.  

Can I Travel To Italy Anytime Soon?

Italy has been in strict lockdown since March 9th, making travel within and into the country nearly impossible. Will the travel restrictions ever be lifted? Will lockdown rules be relaxed enough that it is safe to travel?  

Sadly, Don’t Plan Your Dream Italy Vacation Until 2021 

Italy has lockdowns in place until May 3rd, but we know that can be extended. Italy is part of the European Union (EU) and the EU will ultimately decide the best time to lift the bans in the most affected countries (Italy, Spain, France). 

The Italian government has discussed the phased approach at lifting restrictions and lockdowns and the primary concern is keeping their residents as safe as possible from the virus, while slowly allowing commerce to resume. “Slowly” is the key word here, and “slowly” does not now include international travel into Italy. Timelines for a phased approach to reopening is very fuzzy. 

Life Under COVID-19 and the Phased Approach to Relaxing Restrictions

Living in Italy, like in some of the stricter lockdown nations, has not been easy during the 2020 pandemic. Residents are restricted from traveling between regions in Italy. Many people can’t leave their houses except to visit grocery markets and pharmacies. To go out, you need a valid reason, you must have a permit to do so, AND have proof that you do not have the virus. In the southern regions of Puglia, Calabria, and Sicily, where the outbreak has not been as strong, there has been defiance and some breaking of the rules. Those regions have a larger percentage of workers who are not in the official workforce and so have not qualified for government aid.

In Palermo, people were starting to go hungry, and markets reported that many people felt they should open the stores and give food away. Much to the distress of the mayor, desperation has led the Mafia to deliver food to the most vulnerable groups, which gives the Mafia an appearance as heroes. This will undoubtedly give them back some of the power they lost over the past 25 years. 

Each of these factors suggests it is not smart or safe to travel to Italy anytime soon. 

There are also cases where people are just not taking the lockdowns seriously enough and city mayors are often exasperated. Watch this clip below from On Demand News showing the mayors sending messages to their constituents. These videos may seem humorous at first, but it is frustrating for those in charge to constantly have to plead with the residents of their communities to stay in their homes. 

As an international traveler at this time, why push for travel to Italy during a pandemic – when it is clearly risky for everyone?

Italy Is Not Reopening Soon

Italy is considering loosening the restrictions, but severe limits will remain in place for international travelers. On April 14th, some communities were starting to reopen some bookstores and children’s clothing shops with limited hours, but for only two days per week. If this proves to be successful, the lockdowns will loosen a little more but it will depend on the overall health situation of the country and on whether people are still obeying the rules. Most leaders have estimated that Phase 2 could last 6 to 10 months. But this does not mean Italy will necessarily be open to international travel in 6 to 10 months. There will be close monitoring of the virus to ensure there isn’t another outbreak before moving into Phase 3. If there is a threat of another outbreak, Italy will move back closer to Phase 1 restrictions.

Italians are getting restless and are pushing for reopening. Italians typically take holidays during August and the resort towns in Italy are eager to have them. Owners of the many beach clubs are working to find ways to open safely with rules for social distancing on the beach. For this to happen, the daily rate of new infections needs to fall below one percent (it is currently 1.9 percent).

Snapshot of Phased Openings In Italy

PHASE 1

Span 2 to 4 months

  • Severe lockdowns
  • Border closures
  • No interregional travel 
  • Permits required to go outside (only for approved work, health emergencies or to purchase essential goods)

PHASE 2

Span 6 to 10 months

  • Slow opening of less essential businesses
  • Possible school openings (fall)
  • Limited activities (with enforced social distancing)
  • Borders loosen for EU Travelers
  • Borders restricted for international travelers

PHASE 3

Span: TBD beginning in 2021

  • International Tourism slowly resumes (may exclude USA, UK, China)
  • Restaurants, bars, and museums reopen
  • Country’s economy slowly resumes

In sum, even though Italy may begin opening to residents by August, it doesn’t seem likely Italy will reopen for international travelers before 2021.  For now, we can visit Italy virtually, read up on where to go and what to do so that when Italy does open for tourists once again, we will have our itineraries ready for our ultimate dream vacation to Italy.

To keep up with news in Italy, I read The Local, Italy’s news in English. To read The Local’s reporting on the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy here.

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When Can I Travel To Italy Again?

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