Italy was among the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in the Western world. After two months of strict lockdown, the Bel Paese is finally starting to reopen. On May 4th we officially entered phase 2, a stage when we must learn to coexist with the virus and take extra safety precautions to prevent its spread. Starting June 3rd, Italy will reopen its borders to travelers from the EU and Schengen states with no quarantine required. As for when the rest of the world will be invited in, no date has been currently released (although we do know with certainty that it won’t happen prior to June 15th).
Those willing to travel this summer will see Italy as it hasn’t been seen in decades… with a fraction of its usual tourists. On the flip side, those coming should expect (and employ) extra safety measures.
If you plan to visit, know that you will need to wear a face mask and socially distance yourself from others. In Italy, the minimum social distance is 1 meter or 3.28 feet (so roughly a yard), with an exception made for those who live in the same household.
In general, when entering businesses, public venues or points of interest expect to find:
- Multi-language signs posted with safety measures
- Temperatures being taken, with readings above 37.5° Celsius (99.5° Farenheit) resulting in denied access
- Readily available and strategically placed hand sanitizing gel, for use by both patrons and staff
Each sector has detailed and specific Covid-19 protocols to follow. Below you’ll find a brief summary of those measures that will most directly affect travelers this summer.
- Take-out establishments must not exceed their posted maximum occupancy, patrons must queue outside (1 meter apart) while waiting to enter
- Advance reservations should be made for restaurants with seating
- While seated in a restaurant, a safety distance of at least 1 meter should be maintained between patrons (unless physical barriers are used)
- Buffets are banned
- Wait staff must wear face masks and disinfect their hands before approaching each table
- Masks must be worn by patrons except when they are seated at the table
- Everything that comes into contact with patrons (including menus, salt and pepper shakers, oil & vinegar dispensers, etc.) must be disinfected after each use
Accommodation facilities (hotels, B&Bs, AirBnB-style vacation rentals, etc.):
- Guests are required to wear face masks
- Hosts or staff members who come into contact with guests must wear face masks (unless a physical barrier is in place), minimal contact is preferred
- Rooms must be adequately ventilated before clients arrive and after they depart
- Specific and detailed disinfectant cleaning of the accommodation must take place post check-out and at regular intervals in communal spaces
- Patrons are required to wear face masks for the entire duration of their visit
- Numbers of visitors are limited and strictly enforced, advance reservations should be made
- Audioguides must be sanitized after each use
- Cleaning and disinfection, with particular attention to commonly touched surfaces, must take place in frequent intervals
Italy’s beaches will also be subject to social distancing measures.
- Private beach clubs are required to create a buffer zone of 10 square meters around each beach umbrella and must follow cleaning and sanitizing protocol
- Local mayors will be responsible for enacting and enforcing safety measures at public beaches
- Individual beach sports (swimming, surfing, windsurfing, etc.) are permitted but group sports (like beach volleyball, beach soccer, etc.) are not
- TrenItalia trains are currently allowing 1/3 of their normal capacity on board in order to guarantee adequate social distancing
- Passengers are required to wear masks and seats are clearly marked to indicate where it’s possible to sit
- Other safety measures include dedicated doors for entering/exiting the train, electronic tickets with QR codes and social distancing at the stations
If you are interested in seeing the 18-page safety protocol approved by Italy’s regions, you can check it out here (in italiano).
If you do decide to visit Italy this summer, please be mindful and respectful. Italy’s wounded economy gladly welcomes visitors as it attempts to rebound, but its citizens (and their psyches) are still healing. Please tread lightly.