Italy will impose a mandatory five-day coronavirus quarantine for people arriving from EU countries or returning from intra-block travel until April 6, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
Travelers must also take a Covid-19 test at the end of the quarantine period. Similar measures already existed for travel to countries outside the European Union.
Much of Italy remains under severe coronavirus restrictions as it struggles with a deadly third wave of infections, with the whole country facing a lockdown during the three-day Easter weekend that begins on Saturday.
The new quarantine decision will take effect the day after it was published either on Tuesday night or Wednesday, a ministry spokesman said. The only exceptions are due to “proven necessity and urgency”.
The decree came after the hotel industry complained that while travel between Italy’s 20 regions was almost banned, travel within the EU was allowed with certain restrictions.
“I can not leave my municipality, but I can fly to the Canary Islands – it’s absurd,” Bernabo Bocca, head of the Federation of Italian Hoteliers, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper on Monday.
Italy was the first European country to face the entire pandemic and has officially registered more than 108,000 Covid-19 deaths to date.
The settlement includes 529 deaths reported over 24 hours until Tuesday evening, when another 16,000 new cases were registered.
Across Italy, restaurants and bars can only serve takeaways as infections and deaths have increased. In many regions, all but important shops have been forced to close and people can leave their homes only for work, health reasons or emergencies.
Italian hoteliers blame the government for not offering enough compensation for their forced closures.
“We absolutely did not want to make war on Italians who went abroad […] If the test is valid for going abroad, it must also apply to Italy, Bocca tells ANSA’s news agency.
“We thought it was good that an Italian who took a test could go abroad, but an Italian who took a test should also be allowed to go to a hotel in Venice,” he added.
( Jowharwith REUTERS and AFP)