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HEALTH

Italy confirms travel can restart between all regions from June 3rd

The Italian government has confirmed that unrestricted travel between regions can restart from Wednesday June 3rd as planned, with health experts urging caution.

Italy confirms travel can restart between all regions from June 3rd
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The final confirmation came late on Friday after ministers reviewed the most recent regional health monitoring data in a weekly report produced by the Ministry of Health with the Higher Health Institute.

“The current law decree provides for interregional movements from June 3rd,” health minister Roberto Speranza stated following the decision. “At the moment there are no reasons to review the planned reopening.”

As well as some international travel, unrestricted movement will be allowed in and out of all regions, including Lombardy, which remains by far the hardest-hit region in the country.

READ ALSO: Who is allowed to travel to Italy from June 3rd?

However, some southern regions with relatively few cases are now considering bringing in their own local restrictions on people arriving from the north.

 
The official Health Ministry report, based on regional data following the last round of reopenings on May 18th, urged caution in restarting regional travel.
 
It said that the current situation “is positive, on the whole, with respect to the first phase of transition” although “signs of transmission persist, with new hotspots that depict a fluid epidemiological situation in many regions.”
 

Photo: AFP

Italian newspaper Il Corriere wrote on Saturday that allowing regions to reopen “sends an important signal of economic recovery.”

“The problem of Lombardy remains, the caution of scientists too,” it continued. “But postponing the reopening for a week would have triggered unsustainable tensions and forced the government to keep foreign borders closed.”

Italy had already confirmed that some international travel would be allowed from June 3, and Il Corriere added that postpoing regional travel at this point could result in “unequal treatment between Italians and foreigners.”

READ ALSO: 

Ministers had previously suggested that they may not allow travel from regions deemed to be “high risk”, and threatened that regional travel would not be allowed if large gatherings continued, amid concerns about partying after bars reopened on May 18th.

On Thursday, a report from Gimbe, Italy's group for evidence-based medicine, warned that it would be “risky” to reopen travel to and from three northern regions – Lombardy, Liguria, and Piedmont, which it said are still seeing a high number of cases.

Italian medical experts have also cast doubt on the accuracy of health data being reported by some regions, particularly Lombardy, with the head of Gimbe, Dr. Nino Cartabellotta, saying “there is a reasonable suspicion that the regions are using tricks so they don't have to close again.”

In an interview with The Local last week, Cartabellotta said the government was pushing ahead with relaxing measures without having had enough time to see the effects of the last round of reopenings, from May 18th, on the contagion curve.

According to the official figures, more than 33,000 people have now died of the virus in Italy – around 16,000 of them in the Lombardy region alone.

There were 516 new cases recorded on Friday and 87 deaths, 38 of which were recorded in Lombardy.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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