Italy reopened its borders to European travellers on Wednesday as the country attempts to rescue its tourism industry.
However there are fears in Italy that people may be put off visiting, with neighbouring countries keeping restrictions on travel from the country even as they open up to other European nations.
A severe nationwide lockdown was imposed in Italy in March as the country emerged as a global hotspot for the coronavirus pandemic.
It now faces the challenge of enticing visitors back, as it looks to the summer holiday season as a possible route to some sort of economic recovery. Italy is currently facing the worst recession since the Second World War.
On top of reopening its borders to European travellers, Italy has lifted restrictions on movement between regions. International flights are expected to resume in just three major cities: Milan, Rome and Naples.
However, there are fears that people from neighbouring countries that would usually visit will be staying away this year.
Switzerland plans to open its borders with Germany, France and Austria on 15 June, but not its border with Italy. Citizens have been told those travelling to Italy will be subject to “health measures” on their return.
On the same date Austria will open its borders with Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary – but not Italy. Last week its health minister called Italy a “hot spot”.
Don’t treat Italy ‘like a leper’ warns Di Maio
Italy’s foreign minister Luigi Di Maio has warned other countries not to treat Italy “like a leper”.
He announced that he would visit Germany, Slovenia and Greece this weekend to persuade them that Italy is a safe country for tourists. He is due to receive his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on Wednesday.
More than 33,500 people have been confirmed to have died from COVID-19 in Italy since the start of the outbreak, currently the world’s third highest death toll after the UK and the US.
Those arriving in Italy from Europe will not need to quarantine.