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HEALTH

‘We’ll be back, but not yet’: How people are changing their Italian travel plans this summer

Staycations and quieter destinations, or cancelling trips altogether? Here's what The Local's readers are doing about their planned Italian holidays this year.

'We'll be back, but not yet': How people are changing their Italian travel plans this summer
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
There are fears for the future of many businesses as italy’s tourism industry, one of the country’s most important economic sectors, has been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis.
 
Travel restrictions imposed by Italy and other countries mean would-be visitors from many parts of the world are unsure when they’ll be able to return.
 
But fortunately for those in Italy’s tourist trade, not all visitors will be staying away this year.
 
When we asked readers if and how their Italian travel plans had changed for 2020 due to the pandemic, almost 32 percent of respondents said they still plan to visit this year.
 
 
Many of those set on visiting said they felt confident in doing so because of the precautionary measures Italy has in place, such as compulsory mask wearing in shops and on public transport.
 
Respondents who had already travelled to or within Italy this summer told us this had made them feel safe.
 
 
Brian Maynard from London, England said he arrived at his second home on Lake Como earlier in July and found “the local people are prepared for tourists and social distancing.”
 
“The use of masks is much higher than in the UK,” he noted.
 
Others however said these regulations had put them off travelling for now. As R. Rauth in the US put it: “Wearing masks all the time does not make a great vacation.”
 
Of those who said they’d still be coming this year, many stressed the importance of travelling responsibly and said they’d be carefully following the precautions.
 
Meanwhile, another 34 percent have rearranged their travel plans and now hope to visit either later this year, or in 2021.
 
“I should have travelled by train to Turin in May. This is now postponed until 2021 at the earliest,” said Mark Brook in Cheshire, UK, adding that it’s “not safe to travel.”
 
Others however said these regulations had put them off travelling for now. As R. Rauth in the US put it: “Wearing masks all the time does not make a great vacation.”
 
As well as moving their trips to later dates, readers said they had changed their itineraries or simply
booked a completely different type of Italian holiday.
 
“We postponed our holiday at a campsite in a crowded area and booked a private house with a pool in another area in Italy,” said Michel K. from the Netherlands.
 
“We’ll be back but not yet,” said Dena Lawrence, living in Irelend. “The time isn’t right. We’ve postponed indefinitely.”
 
And many readers living in Italy told us they would be staying within their regions or seeking out quiet areas for a socially-distanced staycation elsewhere in the country this year.
“We live in Italy and plan to stay in our adopted country,” wrote Stephanie Penning in Umbria.
 
“We have had more requests for our house rental from Italians this summer than ever. To us that’s an indication that more are staycationing.”
 
This matches the findings of a recent study, which showed that staycations are expected to be popular in Italy this year; while only 50 percent of residents say they plan to take a holiday in 2020, 93 percent of those will stay in the country.
 
Another 33 percent of respondents said they had cancelled their Italian travel plans completely, with the majority saying they’d been left with no choice.
 
Most of those who had cancelled were in countries from which non-urgent travel into Italy is currently banned, including the US, Australia and New Zealand.
 
“Every July we travel to Italy to stay with our family in Veneto and Le Marche. This year we cannot travel,” said Annie Carment in Australia.
 
Others who had plans to buy property or start businesses in Italy said they’d put everything on hold for now, including Steven Sommerhalder  from the US who said he was “planning on relocating and starting a b&b but this is temporarily postponed.”
 
And, as The Local reported earlier this week, while many would still travel if they could, another 40 percent of readers still feel that travel to Italy should be avoided.
 
 
Many said their main concern was about the risk of possibly bringing the infection with them – particularly readers in the US (who are not currently allowed to travel to Italy for non-urgent reasons) and the UK (who have been allowed to travel freely into Italy since June 3rd.)
 
“Too many Americans are taking the pandemic situation too lightly and not adhering to guidelines. Thus our rates are exploding. Europeans should NOT allow us in until this situation is turned around,” said Vincent Verdi in the USA, who has postponed a planned trip.
 
“They have suffered greatly in their countries and have to protect their people,” he added.

 

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Another US resident, Angelo Serra, said his trip to Italy was planned for late this year “but we decided to be respectful and are pushing it to late next summer or fall.”
 
Susan Fox in Montreal, who is waiting until next year to reschedule a holiday even though Canadian tourists have been allowed to return to Italy since July 1st, with a two-week quarantine, was also cautious despite her country having a lower infection rate.
 
“Although cases are much lower now, where I live was the epicentre in Canada so I would not want to risk inadvertently bringing the virus with me,” she said.
 
Still, some readers outside Europe remain eager to visit Italy as soon as possible.
 
“As soon as the border opens to US citizens, I am heading over,” said Donna Weiner, who has already cancelled three separate trips this year.
 
“Life must go on,” she added.
 
Thanks to everyone who took the time to complete our survey. We read all of your answers even if we couldn’t include them here.

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TRAVEL NEWS

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

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

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.”

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