Italy to reopen borders on June 3, scrap quarantine in bid to restart tourism

Restaurants, bars and hairdressers to reopen on Monday, 2 weeks earlier than planned; entry shutdown caused heavy economic damage to country dependent on the tourism industry

A worker walks holding a lawn mower as a biker rides past a cafe outdoor tables in Tremezzo, Lake Como, Italy, May 14, 2020 (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
A worker walks holding a lawn mower as a biker rides past a cafe outdoor tables in Tremezzo, Lake Como, Italy, May 14, 2020 (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

ROME — Italy will reopen to tourists from early June and scrap a 14-day mandatory quarantine period, the government said Saturday, as it quickened the country’s exit from the coronavirus lockdown.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte enforced an economically-crippling shutdown in early March to counter a global pandemic which official records show has killed over 31,500 people in the country.

The shutdown has effectively ended all holidaymaking in a country heavily dependent on the tourism industry.

Although Italy never formally closed its borders, and has allowed people to cross back and forth for work or health reasons, it banned movement for tourism and imposed a two-week isolation period for new arrivals.

Employees of a disinfecting services company, wearing protective overalls and mask, sprays sanitizer on the forecourt during the sanitation of the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran (San Giovanni in Laterano) in Rome on May 15, 2020 (Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Beginning on June 3, all visitors will be allowed back into the country and will no longer be obliged to self-isolate. Italians will also be able to move between regions, though local authorities can limit travel in specific areas if infection numbers spike.

Movements to and from abroad can be limited by regional decree “in relation to specific states and territories, in accordance with the principles of adequacy and proportionality to the epidemiological risk,” the government said.

The peak of Italy’s contagion passed at the end of March, but with officials warning a second wave cannot be ruled out, Conte had been reluctant to lift the lockdown quickly.

His softly-softly approach however has frustrated many of Italy’s regions, with some going ahead and opening everything from restaurants to beaches early.

The owner of a bathing facility prepares beach cabins for the upcoming summer season, on May 14 2020 in Albissola Marina, near Savona, Liguria (MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP)

Italy’s restaurants, bars and hairdressers are being allowed to reopen on Monday, two weeks earlier than initially planned. Shops will also open and Italians will finally be able to see friends, as long as they live within their same region.

Church masses will begin again, but the faithful will have to follow social distancing rules and holy water fonts will be empty. Italy’s mosques will also reopen.

Regions will be able to decide how far apart clients should be in restaurants and other public places, or use the government’s regulations, drawn up in collaboration with its scientific advisors.

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