Italy has reopened its borders and ended travel restrictions between regions to encourage tourists to visit the country this summer.
During its lockdown, which began nearly three months ago, Italy placed strict limits on non-essential travel in and around the country. But from Wednesday, those restrictions have been lifted and most arrivals into the country will not be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period.
Tourists arriving from the 26 other members of the European Union, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City will not face any restrictions upon entering Italy.
International flights will resume in three major cities, Milan, Rome and Naples.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a televised speech announcing the reopening: “We’re facing a calculated risk in the knowledge that the contagion curve may rise again.
“We have to accept it otherwise we will never be able to start up again.”
Italy was the first country in Europe to be hit hard by the coronavirus. Since it reported its first death in late February, there have been more than 33,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the country.
It now faces its deepest recession since the Second World War, as the lockdown decimated numerous industries and crippled the economy. The Italian government is hoping to lure tourists back in time for the summer to get its economy moving again.
But health authorities there are still reporting dozens of new cases a day, and politicians expressed alarm last month as huge crowds flocked to bars and beaches when lockdown restrictions were eased.
Some officials warned the country had become reckless and risked losing any traction gained in the fight against coronavirus.
The reopening comes after Italy’s foreign minister Luigi Di Maio warned other countries not to treat Italy “like a leper” in a Facebook post.