Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Italy extends COVID-19 restrictive measures through at least July 31; significant business and travel disruptions remain

  • Alert Begins: 15 Jul 2020 03:39 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Severe travel and business disruptions

Authorities in Italy have extended the extraordinary measures introduced to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through at least July 31. These measures include the requirement for individuals to wear protective face coverings in enclosed public spaces and to observe social distancing of at least one meter (3 feet) where possible. Most businesses and activities are permitted to resume, provided strict social distancing and hygiene requirements are enforced.

Previously authorities allowed unrestricted travel to resume with all EU, Schengen Area, and associated countries. In line with a July 1 European Council recommendation, travelers from Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay are permitted to enter Italy, but are required to register with authorities and self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. Italy may remove Montenegro and Serbia from this list should the EU remove them from its recommended list in the coming days. Travel from all other countries remains prohibited, bar a few exceptions, including study, proven work needs, and urgent reasons such as health; all such arrivals are also required to register and self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

Authorities have removed restrictions on interregional travel within Italy; however, regional authorities may require health screenings for arrivals. Interregional rail schedules have increased, though all passengers are subject to a mandatory temperature check before boarding. Any individuals displaying symptoms of COVID-19 are not permitted to travel and must remain home.

Local authorities are empowered to reintroduce restrictions based on assessments of disease activity in the area. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Italian government are similar to actions taken by other regional governments in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

As countries relax blanket restrictions across Europe, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, highly targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to neighborhoods or specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary “self-policing” by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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