Italy is the first European country to open borders since its lockdown began in March.

By Cailey Rizzo
June 04, 2020
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After months of living in quarantine and various levels of lockdown, Italy has opened regional and foreign borders to European travelers on Wednesday, becoming the first European country to do so.

“The health emergency is now behind us,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said during a news conference this week, The Associated Press reported.

But even among Italian regions, there remains some unease with unrestricted travel. Sardinia wanted to require some form of coronavirus testing for visitors arriving from other parts of the country and ruling was rejected by Rome as unconstitutional. Instead, guests will be required to register before they arrive.

For the first time since March, Italy is operating its inter-region high-speed train service and is requiring passengers to undergo a temperature check before boarding. International flights will be permitted to land in Rome, Milan, and Naples. But just because the ports are open does not mean that European travelers will come flooding back.

A man reads in a bar in an almost empty Piazza della Signoria the day of the reopening of the Italian borders on June 3, 2020 in Florence, Italy.
Laura Lezza/Getty
People queue to enter at the reopened Uffizi, which was closed for almost three months due to coronavirus. The Uffizi reopened as 'Slow Uffizi', with a new way of visiting due to anti-contagion rules. There will be half of the visitors allowed and 'social distance signs' which will indicate the exact points and how many people can stand in front of a painting, enabling a slower, calmer visit.
Laura Lezza/Getty

In the meantime, locals enjoyed Italy's famed museums sans tourists and multiple stories of loved ones reuniting surfaced throughout the day on Wednesday. Restaurants and select shops were already open in the country's Phase 2 of reopening.

This past weekend the Pope delivered an address from the Vatican where he partially spoke from the balcony in a sign of hope for the country adapting to their "new normal."

LAURENT EMMANUEL/AFP via Getty Images

A patchwork system of policies is in effect across Europe, with each country setting its own border-reopening policies. Most of Europe is waiting until June 15 to reopen borders, but some countries are waiting even longer than that. Germany announced plans to lift its travel warnings against other European countries on the planned reopening day, but may keep them in place for countries still battling coronavirus, like the United Kingdom.

Austria announced it will lift all of its border checks, except those with Italy.

Other countries are considering “air bridges,” which would allow citizens of lesser-affected regions to visit each other without measures like quarantine or temperature checks. But as European nations negotiate travel agreements, Italy is left out of many due to it once being the epicenter of the outbreak and held the world's highest death toll for weeks.