As tentative signs start to emerge of a revival for the travel industry, our minds are turning to potential holiday destinations for this summer.
While it may have started out as the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, Italy has since managed to admirably flatten the curve and open up to visitors again.
But can British holidaymakers get there? And will we be welcome if we do?
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Here’s everything you need to know.
Am I allowed to travel to Italy from the UK?
At the moment, the Foreign Office is advising against all non-essential international travel – including to Italy.
The ban was initially put in place to avoid Britons getting stuck abroad as flight routes shut down; now that airlines are looking to restart summer flying programmes, this could change.
The FCO says its advice is under “constant review”.
The van doesn’t make travel abroad “illegal” as such – but it does invalidate your travel insurance and means you may find it tricky to get help from the embassy or consulate if things go wrong.
How could I get there?
If and when the ban is lifted, limited flights are available.
EasyJet is currently set to resume flights from London Gatwick to Rome Fiumicino from 17 July and to Venice from 8 July (at a whopping £281.99 one way).
Ryanair has tickets from London Stansted to Rome Ciampino available from 27 June, and resumes flying to Venice from 3 July.
If you wanted to catch a flight from London Heathrow to Rome Fiumicino this week you could with British Airways – though it would set you back up to an eye-watering £594 one-way.
However, in all cases there’s no guarantee the flight won’t be cancelled if not enough people book seats – a strong possibility considering the FCO travel ban is still in place. And, while you’d be owed a refund, you’d likely find it impossible to retrieve any costs paid out in advance for accommodation in Italy.
Will they let me in when I arrive?
Yes – from 3 June, Italy reopened its borders to travellers from the EU and Schengen area and the UK as long as they have not been outside the bloc in the previous two weeks.
Will I have to quarantine when I arrive?
At the moment, no. From 3 June, Italy has allowed Brits to enter the country with no need to quarantine for two weeks.
This is in stark contrast to France and Spain, which are demanding reciprocity when it comes to quarantine measures – both countries are imposing a 14-day quarantine on travellers from the UK in response to the UK’s own blanket two-week quarantine for all arrivals.
Can I travel within Italy?
Yes: travel between Italian regions is now permitted. However, individual regions can impose certain conditions on entry should they wish.
Within regions, public transport is now operating in line with local guidelines. National government authorities may restrict public transport between regions, but a minimum essential service is still guaranteed to keep operating to get people around.
Be aware that transport hubs and modes of transport will have measures in place, such as requiring travellers to wear masks and social distance, designating difference doors for entry and exit on buses, and installing temperature scanners at train stations and airports.
Are hotels open?
Yes, many of Italy’s finest hotels have been opening since early June. These include the Il Palazzo Experimental in Venice, Villa Lena in Tuscany, Palazzo Naiadi, The Dedica Anthology in Rome and the Mandarin Oriental in Lake Como.
As of 5 June, 40 per cent of all Italy’s hotels had reopened, reports The Local – that number has likely increased since.
Are restaurants, shops and attractions open?
Italy has been easing lockdown measures since mid-May.
Cafés, bars, pubs, restaurants, ice-cream shops, patisseries and other eateries are now permitted to open with certain restrictions on the number of patrons. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be worn by staff and customers and social distancing rules must be followed.
Parks and beach resorts can also open, as can most shops – again, with social distancing measures in place.
As of 15 June, concert halls, theatres and cinemas have been able to reopen with strict rules around spaced seating and audience numbers (no more than 200 people indoors, or 1,000 outdoors).
Cultural attractions have also started opening their doors. In Venice, the famed Doge’s Palace reopened on 13 June; the Leaning Tower of Pisa opened at the start of June.
What rules are in place?
It’s currently compulsory to wear a mask in enclosed spaces including public transport or anywhere where it may not be possible to exercise social distancing.
Will I have to quarantine when I come home?
Yes. When you arrive back on UK soil, you’ll currently have two weeks of mandatory quarantine to look forward to.
The policy was implemented on 8 June and is in place indefinitely, but subject to regular review.
The UK quarantine is “compulsory”, which means you could be contacted at random to ensure you understand the requirements and are self-isolating.
Officials can telephone or call at the nominated address at any time during the 14 days and fine you £1,000 (in England and Wales) if you’re out without a valid excuse.
Quarantinees cannot go to work, school or to any public areas, or use public transport or taxis. They can’t have visitors, should not go out to buy food or other essentials “where you can rely on others,” and should also avoid contact with the people they’re staying with.
It’s a high price to pay for a Roman holiday.
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