New coronavirus losing potency, top Italian doctor says

03 Juin, 2020, 22:11 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Venice as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection caused by the novel coronavirus

Italy reopened to travellers from Europe on Wednesday, three months after going into coronavirus lockdown, but sparse arrivals dimmed hopes of reviving the key tourism industry as the summer season begins.

Three airports - Rome, Milan and Naples - will resume global arrivals, with flights scheduled to depart from Heathrow and Manchester today.

Globally, 360,412 people have died with the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University, putting it roughly in the range of worldwide deaths from the 2008-2009 swine flu, estimated at between 151,700 and 575,400 people.

Travellers also face being quarantined for 14 days on arrival back in the United Kingdom, though those rules will only apply from June 8.

A woman wearing a protective face mask looks on at Rome's ancient Colosseum as it is reopened with social distancing and hygiene measures in place June 1, 2020.

It imposed an economically crippling lockdown in early March and has since seen its infection numbers drop off dramatically.

With the country facing its deepest recession since World War II, it needs foreigners to return, and quickly.

At the border between the town of Ventimiglia in Italy and Menton in France, more people were trying to enter France from Italy than the other way round early today, but controls on the French side were very strict.

Italy meanwhile recorded the lowest daily number of new cases since February 26.

Italy fears those who usually travel in by auto, train or ferry may holiday elsewhere.

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Switzerland has warned citizens going to Italy they will be subject to "health measures" on their return.

Austria is lifting border restrictions from Thursday - but again, not with Italy, described last week by Vienna's health minister as "still a hotspot".

Other countries, such as Belgium and Britain, are still advising against, or forbidding, all non-essential travel overseas. "Someone has to take responsibility for terrorizing the country".

He said Saturday he would be travelling to Germany, Slovenia and Greece to persuade them Italy is safe for foreign tourists.

Italy's lockdown has had a particularly devastating effect on the tourism sector, which amounts to some 13 percent of GDP.

Historic sites were shut, restaurants closed, and hotels were used to care for coronavirus sick.

But only 40 of Rome's 1,200 hotels have reopened, the Corriere della Sera newspaper said Monday, and just a dozen in Milan.

Restaurants and cafes have slowly reopened in recent days - but the government says it will impose localised lockdowns if it sees contagion numbers rise. It costs too much to open them if they will just stand empty.

Italy's national tourism agency (ENIT) said some 40% of Italians traditionally travel overseas for their holidays, but could be forced this year to vacation at home, helping local businesses.

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