Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Italy to maintain COVID-19-related ban on non-EU travelers from July 1 despite EU recommendation; significant domestic restrictions remain.

  • Alert Begins: 01 Jul 2020 03:55 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 15 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 are maintaining the ban on non-EU citizens and residents from entering the country beyond July 1 despite a European Council recommendation that travel resume with 15 non-European countries from this date. This restriction was originally introduced March 17 as part of the bloc's measures to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Exceptions are made for essential travel, which includes studying, proven work needs, and urgent reasons such as health; all such arrivals are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Authorities permitted travel to resume with all Schengen Area and associated countries for any reason June 3. It is unclear how authorities will enforce the restrictions for non-EU travelers arriving in other Schengen Area countries and then seeking to travel onwards to Italy, but officials are not currently planning on reintroducing checks at internal borders.

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.

As of June 15 authorities have permitted most activities and businesses to resume provided strict hygiene and social distancing requirements are followed. Nightclubs remain closed until at least July 14. Protective face coverings remain mandatory in enclosed public spaces nationwide and open public spaces in many regions. Social distancing of at least one meter (3 feet) must continue where possible.

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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