Italy Reopens to European Travelers—but Not to Americans Yet

After a lengthy coronavirus lockdown, the Italian government lifted quarantine restrictions and reopened its borders on June 3, but only to its European neighbors.

Italy Reopens to European Travelers—but Not to Americans Yet

As of June 3, Italy is opening its borders to residents of other EU states and the United Kingdom.

Photo by Shutterstock

This is a developing story. For the latest information on traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

On June 3, Italy became the first country in Europe to reopen its international and regional borders and eliminate a 14-day quarantine requirement for visitors arriving from abroad. It hopes to revive the country’s tourism industry, which contributes some 13 percent of gross domestic product.

But before you start celebrating, these new regulations don’t apply to residents of the United States. According to the government decree, these new rules only apply to people arriving from member countries of the European Union, countries within the Schengen Zone, as well as the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, and the microstates and principalities of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican.

The government decree also says those who test positive for COVID-19 or have had close contact with people with the virus will still be subjected to mandatory quarantine measures. (Officials did not provide details on how exactly they would be checking or confirming travelers’ contacts.) Travelers arriving and departing from Rome’s airports will be subjected to health checks, including temperature checks from thermal scanners at the entrances to both Fiumicino and Ciampino airports.

As coronavirus cases continue to fall within Italy, the government also retains the right to institute “more restrictive measures” to and from certain regions in the event of worsening epidemiological data.

When will non-European residents be allowed to travel to Italy?

The earliest the European Commission is considering allowing nonessential travel into the European Union from outside member states is June 15, 2020. Since Italy went into lockdown in the second week of March, travel into the country and between its regions has been strictly limited. Airports and railway stations remained open only to allow those with proven work needs or other urgent or health-related reasons to travel with a form verifying their purpose. Italian citizens were also allowed to return home from abroad and foreign tourists could leave the country.

Per the Italian government’s decree, between June 3 and 15, travel to and from countries other than those listed above is still prohibited, except for “determined work needs, of absolute urgency or for health reasons.”

To dispel rumors, Giorgio Palmucci, president of ENIT-Italian National Tourist Board, issued a statement denying that Italy was closing its borders to tourists until 2021.

“Tourism in Italy will start again, with all precautions and in maximum safety,” Palmucci said. “Those who love Italy must be allowed to return to enjoy it, in compliance with governmental and regional guidelines. It is a delicate phase in which it is essential to defend Italy also through correct communication.”

However, the tourist board told AFAR that there is no specific date available yet for when travelers from the United States will be allowed to enter Italy.

What else is reopening in Italy?

Phase 2 of Italy’s lockdown began on May 4, as Italians were allowed to return to parks within their cities and many were able to go back to work. Other lockdown restrictions loosened before the June 3 border reopening. Restaurants, bars, and shops were allowed to reopen, and travel within regions to visit friends and family is once again permitted as of May 18, while gyms and swimming pools reopened on May 25, and cinemas and theaters will reopen on June 15.

Museums in Italy have also started to reopen with limited capacity. Florence’s Uffizi Galleries reopened on June 3 but is only allowing a maximum of 450 people down from 900 at once into the galleries. The Vatican Museums reopened June 1, also with limited tickets and new rules and procedures to guarantee the safety of guests and employees.

Just because the borders will open, doesn’t mean tourists will come

In an evening address on Saturday May 16, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said easing travel restrictions within the EU would “create the conditions for tourism recovery” but also referred to the decision as a “calculated risk.”

With hotel occupancy down 99 percent for foreigners, the Associated Press reported that Italy’s national hotel federation said it has already lost 106,000 jobs as of April and another 500,000 are at risk if travel doesn’t return this summer. Between the months of March and May, the national statistics agency ISTAT estimates Italy lost 10 billion euros (US$10.8 billion) from foreign travelers based on numbers from 2019.

But even though Italy is eager to recoup financial losses during its busy summer tourism season, its European neighbors are wary of Italy jumping the gun in reopening.

Germany is advising its citizens to not travel for nonessential reasons until at least June 15, while French officials reiterated that they were hoping for a coordinated effort within the EU to reopen borders, the Associated Press reports. In 2019, visitors from Germany contributed to 13.6 million overnight stays in Italy while French overnight stays came to 14 million, according to Eurostat figures from the Associated Press.

Hotels that are starting to reopen must comply with new government regulations, like requiring guests to always wear face masks despite pushback from some hoteliers.

“We don’t understand why a tourist would have to stay on the terrace or in the garden of a hotel with a mask,’’ Francesco Bechi, the head of the hotel federation in Florence, told the Associated Press. “We are very attentive to health and prevention. Clear and precise rules can guarantee services to guests.’’

In Lake Como, the Hotel Villa d’Este will reopen on June 18, with the Grand Hotel Tremezzo following shortly after on June 26, with just 30 of its 90 rooms available to book. The Belmond Hotel Splendido in Portofino and the Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice both plan on reopening on June 19. Some properties in Rome, like the Hotel Hassler, are postponing reopening until mid-July, while others like the design-forward G-Rough have already reopened. G-Rough’s nine-suite sister property in Puglia, Palazzo Daniele, has also reopened.

Likewise, some airlines have started to restore flight service. While Alitalia continued to operate a limited schedule of flights between Italy and the United States during lockdown, the national airline resumed its Rome–New York route on June 2. However, American Airlines doesn’t plan on bringing back its New York–Milan and Miami–Milan routes until October 25.

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article. This article originally appeared online on May 18, 2020; it was updated on June 3, 2020, to include current information.

>> Next: Europe’s Plan for Reopening Borders and Travel Within the EU

Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
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