Coronavirus: What does the lockdown in Italy mean for UK tourists?

8 March 2020, 14:44

Popular tourist destinations such as the Duomo in Milan were deserted on Sunday
Popular tourist destinations such as the Duomo in Milan were deserted on Sunday. Picture: PA

Amid Europe's biggest outbreak of coronavirus, huge swathes of northern Italy have been placed on lockdown.

Italy has been forced to cancel events, close museums and prevent travel between many northern regions after over 5,800 people were diagnosed with Covid-19.

233 people have died from the virus in the country, which has the second largest number of confirmed cases in the world.

But what does this mean for tourists who had planned to visit the country, both inside and outside the lockdown area?

Linate airport is almost completely empty due to the Coronavirus emergency
Linate airport is almost completely empty due to the Coronavirus emergency. Picture: PA

Which parts of Italy are in lockdown?

The Lombardy region and the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Vercelli, Padua, Treviso and Veneto are all in lockdown.

This includes Milan and Venice.

The new measures, implemented on Sunday, affect 16 million people.

What is the Foreign Office’s advice on travelling to Italy?

The Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to ten small towns in Lombardy (Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano) and one in Veneto (Vo’ Euganeo).

Can I still travel to other parts of Italy?

Tourists travelling from one of the areas in lockdown to Tuscany, Abruzzo, Molise, Basilicata, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily will have to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Places such as Rome and Florence are still thought to be safe to visit, but the Foreign Office has not issued further guidance.

You can keep track of their latest advice at the FCO Office website.

Will my flight be affected?

Flights from many UK airports to Milan and Venice appeared to be operating as normal on Sunday afternoon.

At Gatwick, EasyJet flights to both Milan airports and Venice, British Airways and Vueling flights to Milan-Bergamo and an American Airlines flight to Venice were all due to depart on time.

Similarly, at Heathrow, British Airways and AlItalia flights to Milan-Linate and a BA flight to Venice and were operating as usual.

In a statement on their website, EasyJet said: “We are aware of the latest Italian media reports of local government plans to introduce restrictions in the Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna regions including Milan and Venice.

“However, we have had confirmation that currently our operations to and from Milan-Malpensa, Milan-Linate and Venice airports are not affected and we plan to operate our flight schedule as normal.”

Venice was deserted amid the outbreak
Venice was deserted amid the outbreak. Picture: PA

Are restaurants, bars and entertainment venues still open?

Organized events across Italy have been cancelled, including sports matches and religious gatherings.

Museums, art galleries and other “places of culture” have also been shut, including the Colosseu

In Lombardy and the 14 provinces on lockdown, restaurants and bars can only open between 6am and 6pm.

Elsewhere, these venues are allowed to open at normal times, but guidance says managers are “obliged to enforce the interpersonal safety distance of at least one metre.”

The same guidance applies to large shopping centres.

Do I need to self-isolate upon returning to the UK?

The Department for Health and Social Care says you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if you have returned from one of the lockdown areas in the last 14 days, even without symptoms.

They also recommend self-isolating if you have returned from elsewhere in Italy but have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath, even if symptoms are mild.