The Strange Case Of Italy’s Lockdown, Where Travel Abroad Is Still Allowed


Sometimes, things are not the way they appear. At least, this was the case with Italy’s most recent restrictions measures, which have placed the country in a partial lockdown, yet allowing for travel abroad – as the daily newspaper Repubblica reported recently. 

Despite high contagion numbers (the country is still registering about 500 deaths every day), and the tight measures put in place, in fact, the latest governmental decree entails a gray zone according to which people are still allowed to move between regions to reach an airport or a harbor, including if they are going on a holiday. This was also confirmed by a positive response that the Home Affairs Ministry delivered to Astoi-Confindustria, the biggest tour operator association in Italy.

“Hotels and all of Italy’s tourist sector have been shut down for months, due to the ban on movement between one region and the other. We do not understand how is it possible that travel outside of the country is allowed, but within Italy it is not,” commented Bernabò Bocca, president of national hotels association Federalberghi.

“For Easter it is going to be possible to travel abroad, but not in Italy. It is a plain paradox that while all of the tourism sector has been on hold for months because of some absurd restrictions, Italians can cross borders to spend the Easter holidays elsewhere. If vaccinated people are at low risk of contagion and if someone has a negative Covid-19 test, they need to be allowed to visit all of the beautiful destinations of our country, also in order to restart thousands of businesses in tourism and food services that are respecting Covid-19 protocols,” added Francesco Lollobrigida, an MP affiliated with the party Fratelli D’Italia (Brothers of Italy).

The news about the opportunity to travel abroad from Italy started circulating after news became known that thousands of German citizens have been traveling towards the Spanish island of Mallorca, since the German government delisted the island from destinations at high contagion risk. Despite also being currently involved in a tight fight with the virus, in fact, Germany could not put a ban on travel, due to constitutional constraints. According to media reports, mass travel to Mallorca has been in place for about two weeks, and up to 40,000 German-speaking tourists are expected on the Mediterranean island over Easter.

Meanwhile, the Italian Ministry of Health has announced that it will make it mandatory for people traveling abroad during the Easter break to do a Covid-19 PCR test before departure, undergo a quarantine of 5 days when they come back, and do another PCR test at the end of the quarantine period. 

“This way we all lose, we honestly cannot see the rationale in this measure and we can’t separate it from the recent controversy about being allowed to travel to other countries for Easter. Why wasn’t this decree made earlier? It appears as if it was suggesting to make it harder to go abroad,” commented Pier Ezhaya, president of Astoi-Confindustria. 

For Easter celebrations, between 3-5th April, the Italian government has foreseen the implementation of a full red zone in the country, although with some exceptions to visit relatives within the same city. Overall, Italy has had a somewhat steady epidemic trend in the past weeks (16,017 new cases and 529 deaths as of today), although hospitals are currently under stress in several regions. And while re-openings in the country after Easter remain uncertain, according to statements shared by prime minister Mario Draghi, based on communications by the European Commission, “the number of vaccine doses available should be sufficient to reach herd immunity by July all over Europe”.

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