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“We test those who enter Italy. If infections start to rise again, [Italy] too should reinstate the quarantine for those arriving from England. But we’re not there yet,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said following a press conference at the end of the G7 meeting in the UK, Rai reports.
The British government is set to announce on Monday that a planned easing of lockdown restrictions will be pushed back by four weeks, according to the BBC, amid a rapid rise in cases of the Delta variant first detected in India.
Asked if Italy was also looking at changing its reopening plan this summer, Draghi said: “For now, there’s no reason to think that this will happen.”
“It depends a lot on the contagion rate, if infections should shoot up … but this is not what we’re seeing in other European countries,” he added, pointing out that “Spain and Greece do not require quarantine from England.”
Travel to Italy from the UK is far from straightforward already, as British ‘amber list’ rules require a ten-day quarantine on arrival from Italy and the purchase of travel-testing kits which cost around £200 per person. There are also fewer flights operating than expected.
Stopping tourism from the UK altogether this summer would cost Italy 1.5 billion euros in lost revenue, according to analysis by Coldiretti, the industry group representing Italian agriculture.
Tourism has now restarted in Italy from some countries, including the UK: Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP
Italian health officials had previously said they believed vaccines may be able to mitigate the impact of Delta and any other new strains of coronavirus.
Italian deputy health minister Pierpaolo Sileri told Radio 24 in late May that he was not worried about the Indian variant for two reasons: “The first is that there is no evidence that it is resistant to vaccines, and the second, more general, is that research has made great strides in creating safe and effective vaccines.”
“Even if a variant emerged that could partially resist them, we would be able to respond,” he said.
However, in the UK, public health officials are now concerned about the Delta variant because it “partially evades vaccines, is at least 40% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, and appears to double the risk of hospitalisation”, the BBC reports.
Though Italy’s vaccination campaign has accelerated and improved in recent months, only around one quarter of the population is fully immunised at the moment, the latest government data shows.
In Italy, 172 cases are known to have been caused by the Delta variant so far according to the Gisaid database. Alpha (or B.1.1.7) is still the dominant variant, accounting for some 93 percent of cases in the country according to the latest Italian government data.
However, Italy collects and analyses far less data on new virus strains than the UK does, meaning that the picture in Italy is incomplete and it’s hard to compare information from the two countries.
So far in Italy only 1.11% of all positive swab tests have been sequenced to identify the strain.
For more information on international travel to and from Italy, see the Foreign Ministry’s website.
Please note The Local is not able to give advice on individual cases.
Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased
The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights
Published: 11 May 2022 16:17 CEST
Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.
The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.
The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.
It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.
“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement.
“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”
ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants.
“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal.
“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission.
“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”