Italy is set to begin lifting its coronavirus-induced travel ban in the coming weeks after the country spent months in lockdown when it became the epicenter of the deadly virus outbreak.
As CBS News reported, the Italian government announced plans to start allowing travel in and out of the country beginning on June 3. Italian citizens will also be able to travel freely around the nation on the same day, the report added, though some travel will be limited depending on the risk for disease and among people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Italy had put in place some of the world’s strictest restrictions in late February and March, as the number of cases exploded and hospital systems became overwhelmed with critically ill patients. The country eventually surpassed China, where the coronavirus outbreak first started in late 2019, for having the most cases in the world. Italy now stands No. 3 in the world with roughly 31,800 deaths, behind just the United States and Great Britain.
The number of new cases has since fallen dramatically, with just 153 new cases reported on Saturday. That is the lowest number in more than two months.
As the CBS News report noted, the travel ban in Italy is set to lift one day after the country’s Republic Day, which is traditionally a time of holiday travel. Opening up afterward will allow the nation to avoid mass travel and increased risk for spreading the disease, the report noted.
Like many other countries, Italy has taken a gradual approach to reopening, allowing just some businesses to start operating again and letting residents begin to move more freely but with some tight social distancing and personal protection rules in place. Travel had remained under tight restrictions, both within the country and internationally. As Reuters reported, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said this week that people will no longer have to justify their travel, and will be free to meet with friends and family.
A number of businesses will be reopening on Monday, including restaurants and bars, the report added.
“People will be able to go wherever they want – to a shop, to the mountains, to a lake or the seaside,” Conte said.
As Reuters added, Conte had resisted calls from some who wanted to open the economy more swiftly, saying the country would continue forward with a gradual return to normal, with some of the harder-hit regions moving even slower than those with fewer infections.