The holidays of Summer 2020 will go down in history, as indeed will the strange Spring months we’ve just left behind. Coronavirus has disrupted our holiday plans, affected bookings, beach holidays and eating out. But the good news is that the fall in the infection rate in Europe means Italians can do what was previously off limits: cross the borders between regions and neighbouring countries without having to produce auto-certification, book hotel rooms and enjoy a few days away. Bearing in mind a few rules and some new developments.
Where travel is allowed
On June 15, the European Union opened up its internal borders again and travel between countries in the Schengen area is permitted without the requirement to quarantine. Between July 1 and July 14, restrictions were still in place between Italy and non-EU and non-Schengen countries, unless “absolutely necessary, for work, health, studies, or if returning to ones’ place of residence.” But before setting off, all travellers are advised to consult the website of their country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for guidance on the restrictions in place.
The Italian government is offering families a ‘holiday bonus’ worth up to 500 euro
In its ‘Decreto Rilancio’ (Relaunch Decree) the Italian government has approved a ‘holiday bonus’ to help families after months of hardship. The ‘bonus’ is worth up to 500 euro and can be used in hotels, campsites, holiday parks, agriturismo (farm stays) and B&Bs anywhere in Italy. It is designed to help Italians have a holiday and boost internal tourism in preference to trips abroad. The ‘bonus’ can be requested between July 1 and December 31, 2020, so it’s not limited to summer holidays.
The ‘bonus’ is intended for households with an annual income below 40,000 euro. Once the ‘bonus’ has been requested online, the sum eligible families receive will depend on the number of people in the household: 500 euro for three or more members, 300 euro for two and 150 for single travellers. Rules do apply to how the money can be used. For instance, the ‘bonus’ can only be used by one member of the household and it must be spent as one sum in one establishment, which is not so useful for those who had planned a more itinerant trip with nights in different places. Lastly, 80% of the ‘bonus’ is in the form of an immediate discount, while the remaining 20% is to be claimed back against tax.
You can’t travel if …
When checking in at airports or when booking accommodation, travellers need to declare that they have not tested positive for the virus and are therefore not required to quarantine. Anyone who has been infected is still not allowed to travel to prevent the spread of infection. People with Covid-19 symptoms are not allowed to travel even if they have not yet been tested. By the same token, in hotels and other accommodation, at railway stations and in airports, temperature checks are being carried out to ensure travellers’ temperatures are below 37.5°C.
Forms to fill in
Some Italian regions will be registering arrivals. Travellers to Sardinia will have to register on the regional government’s website. Sicily has introduced its own App, ‘Sicilia SiCura’, but its use is not compulsory for arrivals on the island. In Apulia, travellers need to fill in a form on arrival and Basilicata requires its residents to inform their family doctor that they are travelling. Nowhere is quarantine required for travel within Italy.
Travel between Italian regions does not require quarantine
Trains in Italy are running at half capacity: seating is ‘chessboard style’ with only every second seat available. It’s a different story on planes: since June 15 they have been travelling at full capacity given that they can guarantee better air circulation. Though fewer routes have been served until now, airlines are likely to add further destinations as demand increases. There are restrictions on hand luggage, however: handbags and rucksacks are allowed but not carry-on trolleys, which have to be loaded in the hold.
Social distancing rules are still in place on both Italy’s public and privately run beaches, though the rules are slightly different. On public beaches, some resorts are considering extending the management of private beaches to adjacent public beaches as they do not have the staff to ensure the rules are followed on their public beaches. They could be managed by private licence holders who will be required to pay a higher fee. This means that in some resorts you may need to reserve a sunbed even on public beaches and it’s best to check that out beforehand. Private beaches must ensure that sun umbrellas are three metres apart with a space of 10 square metres allocated to each one. Sunbeds and deckchairs have to be disinfected after each use and at the end of the day. You can play racket ball but there are some restrictions: no table tennis, beach volley or other group games which could cause crowds to gather.
In the mountains
The alpine rescue department has been positing videos on its YouTube channel in preparation for the summer season. Mountain resorts, sports facilities and restaurants are subject to the same rules as coastal resorts (social distancing, reservation recommended, no large groups etc.). So, it is possible to enjoy the mountain trails, spa facilities and wellness centres. Since June 15, swimming pools, spas and fitness centres are open again, though care should be taken in changing rooms to avoid overcrowding. Each facility is responsible for safely managing flow and access.