I’m sure by now you are all aware that Italy was hit hard when COVID-19 first appeared.
Back in March, the country went into a strict lockdown in which all residents were not allowed to leave their home unless it was for work or food purposes. Each time we left our homes we needed to carry a government issued paper which stated what our business was for leaving the home.
This was monitored by the local police who would set up border control along the roads and check the papers while we were driving in the car. Even if we were walking to the supermarket, the police might stop us and ask to see the paper.
On March 14, 2020 the CDC issued a Level 3 travel advisory to the country of Italy and a Level 4 travel warning to the Lombardy and Veneto Regions.
As of June 11, 2020 those traveling to Italy from member states of the European Union (the United Kingdom, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican City State) will no longer be required to self-isolate under the supervision of health authorities for 14 days unless they have stayed in other countries during the 14-day period prior to entering Italy. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland are also included in this agreement.
For those who are traveling from a country not listed above, including the United States, travel to Italy will be allowed only for proven work, urgent health needs, or to return to your place of residence. Those travelers continue to be required to self-isolate for 14 days under the supervision of health authorities, either at home or another address of their choosing.
You can read more about the specific travel policies of your country at this travel information website.
Experts say the reasons Italy was impacted so severely are because of a few factors:
- Italy has many elderly people living in the country.
- Italians greet by giving kisses on the cheek.
- The country is densely populated, most housing is in close proximity.
- Northern Italy is an important business hub so many people travel there for work.
You can read more about the factors affecting Italy’s COVID-19 rate here.
So what is life like now that Italy is in Phase 3 of recovery?
Mainly, residents can travel around the country of Italy as well as to most countries in the EU, and almost every business and restaurant is open to the public. But of course, there are a few differences.
Now when we dine at restaurants it is a different experience with a few changes, but they are not so severe.
First, we are encouraged to sit outside at the tables which are appropriately spaced out to abide by the social distancing measures. It is super warm right now in Italy so sitting outside is typically preferred over sitting indoors anyway.
Some restaurants offer indoor seating (with AC!). When we enter the restaurant we must wear a mask until we are seated. The tables inside are spaced appropriately to follow social distancing measures and if we need to use the restroom or walk around the restaurant for any reason, we must wear our mask.
Next, there is a bottle of sanitizer outside each entrance so that the public is encouraged to properly sanitize their hands before entering the restaurant or taking a seat oustide.
Most menus are now available via QR code. The codes are usually on the table already, but in some places the waiter will set the code down for you to scan into your phone. All you need to do is open your phone’s camera and place it over the QR code, then a pop-up will appear. Click on the pop-up and it will take you to the restaurants online menu.
Some restaurants will take your temperature before seating you, but not all of them.
Last, all staff at any restaurant wear masks. They are required to do so by law given they are around food and in close proximity to the public when they walk up to the table and take people’s orders.
What’s important to note is that all restaurants are open again and encouraging diners to visit or buy in some way. They have been closed for quite some time and are looking to gain business and revenue once again.
We are happy to contribute to the economy!
Most hotels are now open in Italy with a few changes.
If the property previously offered a buffet breakfast, this is no longer an option. The check-in process is the same except the staff are all wearing face coverings and encouraging customers to do the same when they enter the lobby.
If an online check-in option is available, the customers are encouraged to use this option instead.
Here is the full list of changes that was emailed to us for our upcoming stay at a local hotel:
- Temperature controls for all guests entering the facility and specific procedures for detecting body temperature equal to or greater than 37.5 degrees centigrade. The stay will not be allowed to guests with recorded temperatures above 37.5 degrees centigrade.
- Health statements and disclaimer forms that guests will be required to sign upon arrival.
- Special hand sanitizers available to guests in the common areas of the hotel including the lobby, the breakfast room and restaurant and the pool bar.
- Aeration of all common areas, and use of UVC lamps to sanctify them during their night closing.
- External check-in areas, and ventilated check-out area with large outdoor spaces for waiting.
- Enhancing hygiene and safety training for employees, ranging from awareness-raising on social distancing to the correct procedures for the use of PPE, to case monitoring and notification procedures.
- The subjecting of employees to regular temperature checks, with the constant obligation to sign hygiene declarations and resort to PPE.
- Reduced paper services (menus, newspapers, newsletters and guest directories) throughout the hotel
- A significant increase in the regular cleaning and sanitization of all hotel spaces
- A further increased frequency of sanitation of all areas with a high level of exposure and contact – such as the reception desk, elevator buttons, light switches, door handles, bathrooms in the restaurant hall.
- The guarantee of an even more rigorous cleaning and sanitizing procedure for the guest rooms. The room cleaning service will use UVC lamps for the sanctification of all the elements in it. The staff will use this service daily for both the arrival / departure rooms and for daily cleaning.
- The washing of sheets and linen at high temperatures and by means of disinfectants that guarantee their sterilization.
- The adoption of appropriate measures of spacing the tables in the breakfast area, in the restaurant and in the swimming pool area.
- A la carte breakfast service booked the previous evening, so as to ensure reduced influx of people. Also, expanding breakfast room.
- Light lunch will be served by the pool and in the lounge area, à la carte
- Our convivial dinners will still use the table, and will be served at the same time 20: 30/21: 00 – the distance of min. Will be assured. 1 meter between couples, and the lounge area will be used in case of need for more space.
- Room service and maintenance services can be carried out without entering the room or an empty room.
- Our swimming pools are accessible, our staff will take care of ensuring the right distance and compliance with the new rules.
For the most part, we have been choosing to stay in entire-home AirBnB’s as this helps to decrease the amount of people we come into contact with during our stay.
The measures for AirBnB are different as well. The hosts are doing their best to decrease contact time by asking for your identification ahead of time (by sending them a picture) and they wear face coverings while checking you in.
They also are required to show you the specific laws for each city which all basically state the same thing: if you have a temperature over 37 degrees Celsius you must report it, wash your hands frequently, wear a face covering when entering and exiting any building.
This past week my husband and I took a road trip to mainland Italy from Sicily. Since we were driving from an island to the mainland, we have to take the ferry in order to reach our destination.
Some notable differences when it comes to riding the ferry is that there are markings on the floor of the ship which indicate proper social distancing measures. Every 6 feet there will be a stenciled picture on the ground stating, “stand here.”
In addition, every other seat is marked with a red X or a green check to indicate where you can sit that will also abide by the social distancing measures.
Most people wore their face coverings since being on the ferry it is almost unavoidable to abide by the social distancing measures at all times. However, no one was monitoring this.
I have yet to travel by airplane. However, travel to other countries to and from Italy (for the most part) is currently allowed. At this time, depending on the current laws of the host country, residents of Italy might be required to do a 14 day quarantine.
For domestic flights there are a few new rules. These differ depending on their airline and your country of departure. However, these 10 rules seem to be the consensus and what you can prepare for overall:
- Most airlines are requiring that you arrive earlier. Mainly 2 hours before your scheduled departure time.
- Protective gear is a must. Not only a mask worn at all times but also gloves.
- Mobile Apps for tickets opposed to paper tickets. This eliminates passing germs from passengers to staff.
- Thermal screening stations are now set up outside of each terminal. Each passenger will be required to have their temperature checked before entering the terminal.
- No use of trolleys unless they are absolutely necessary.
- The passengers luggage will be sanitized before entering the terminal. There may also be an area for passengers to sanitize their footwear.
- More self-check-in counters for bag checks to avoid lines and crowding.
- Newspapers and magazines will no longer be offered in the lounges.
- Hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the airport.
- All food and retail stores will be open but take-away will be encouraged.
Current Country Bans
In order to maintain the low-cases that Italy has been seeing over the last few months, the country has banned 13 countries that are considered high-risk for COVID-19 infection from visiting for the time being. They are:
This ban applies to anyone who has spent time in these countries in the last 14 days, regardless of residency. You can read more about the about the recent ban at this website.
Keep in mind that this information is changing daily. The most recent travel information can be found at this website and should be referenced before booking international travel.
Overall, traveling around Italy has felt pretty normal. The only main differences are having to bring and wear our masks most places and abiding by the social distancing measures.
We are aware that most businesses need as many customers as possible right now to combat the months of closure they experienced. As stated earlier, we are happy to be able to contribute to the economy again!
How do you feel about traveling in Italy now that you’ve read this? Are you more inclined or less inclined to travel here now that you know the new policies, rules and procedures?
Are the new policies the same in your country or state? Let me know in the comments below!
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