Is it safe to travel to Italy this summer and will I have to quarantine?

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Getty/iStock

As tentative signs start to emerge of a revival for the travel industry, our minds are turning to potential holiday destinations for this summer.

While it may have started out as the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, Italy has since managed to admirably flatten the curve and open up to visitors again.

But can British holidaymakers get there? And will we be welcome if we do?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Am I allowed to travel to Italy from the UK?

At the moment, the Foreign Office is advising against all non-essential international travel – including to Italy.

The ban doesn’t make travel abroad “illegal” as such – but it does invalidate your travel insurance and means you may find it tricky to get help from the embassy or consulate if things go wrong.

However, the government is expected to announce that this blanket warning will be relaxed from 6 July, alongside the ditching of compulsory quarantine for inbound travellers from countries deemed “safe” according to a new traffic light system that grades countries red, amber or green.

It’s not a certainty, but if Italy is on the “green” list the FCO travel ban will be lifted and travellers returning to the UK from Italy will be exempt from the 14-day quarantine period.

How could I get there?

When restrictions are relaxed, limited flights are available.

EasyJet is currently set to resume flights from London Gatwick to Rome Fiumicino from 17 July and to Venice from 8 July (at a whopping £281.99 one way).

Ryanair has been operating services from London Stansted to Rome Ciampino since 27 June, and resumes flying to Venice from 3 July.

British Airways has been operating London Heathrow to Rome Fiumicino flights for much of June.

However, in all cases there’s no guarantee the flight won’t be cancelled if not enough people book seats – a strong possibility while the FCO travel warning is still in place.

Will they let me in when I arrive?

Yes – from 3 June, Italy reopened its borders to travellers from the EU and Schengen area and the UK as long as they have not been outside the bloc in the previous two weeks.

Will I have to quarantine when I arrive?

At the moment, no. From 3 June, Italy has allowed Brits to enter the country with no need to quarantine for two weeks.

Can I travel within Italy?

Yes: travel between Italian regions is now permitted. However, individual regions can impose certain conditions on entry should they wish.

Within regions, public transport is now operating in line with local guidelines. National government authorities may restrict public transport between regions, but a minimum essential service is still guaranteed to keep operating to get people around.

Be aware that transport hubs and modes of transport will have measures in place, such as requiring travellers to wear masks and social distance, designating difference doors for entry and exit on buses, and installing temperature scanners at train stations and airports.

Are hotels open?

Yes, many of Italy’s finest hotels have been opening since early June. These include the Il Palazzo Experimental in Venice, Villa Lena in Tuscany, Palazzo Naiadi, The Dedica Anthology in Rome and the Mandarin Oriental in Lake Como.

As of 5 June, 40 per cent of all Italy’s hotels had reopened, reports The Local – that number has likely increased since.

Are restaurants, shops and attractions open?

Italy has been easing lockdown measures since mid-May.

Cafés, bars, pubs, restaurants, ice-cream shops, patisseries and other eateries are now permitted to open with certain restrictions on the number of patrons. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be worn by staff and customers and social distancing rules must be followed.

Parks and beach resorts can also open, as can most shops – again, with social distancing measures in place.

As of 15 June, concert halls, theatres and cinemas have been able to reopen with strict rules around spaced seating and audience numbers (no more than 200 people indoors, or 1,000 outdoors).

Cultural attractions have also started opening their doors. In Venice, the famed Doge’s Palace reopened on 13 June; the Leaning Tower of Pisa opened at the start of June.

What rules are in place?

It’s currently compulsory to wear a mask in enclosed spaces including public transport or anywhere where it may not be possible to exercise social distancing.

Will I have to quarantine when I come home?

For the moment, yes. When you arrive back on UK soil, you’ll currently have two weeks of mandatory quarantine to look forward to.

The policy was implemented on 8 June and put in place indefinitely.

However, on Wednesday, 1 July, the government is expected to say that the current rules will be relaxed from 6 July for a range of destinations.

Countries regarded as “safe” by the Joint Biosecurity Centre – which was set up to coordinate the government’s response to the pandemic – will be exempt from mandatory quarantine.

The centre is categorising countries with a “traffic light” system. Each country is rated green, amber or red, depending on the prevalence of coronavirus, the trajectory of the disease and the centre’s assessment of the data’s reliability.

Quarantine will apply only to nations rated red.

A full list has not yet been confirmed, but Italy looks likely to be one of the destinations given the green light, meaning those returning from a holiday there would not be subject to current self-isolation rules.

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