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Christmas travel restrictions in Italy

Published: 03/12/2020 By The Abode Team

On Wednesday the 2nd of December the Italian government approved a law banning travel between regions over the Christmas period, and between towns on Christmas Day.

Today (December the 3rd) the Italian government is set to announce a new set of anti-coronavirus measures, due to come into force by Friday. But ahead of the full set of measures, the government on Wednesday night separately approved a decree law prohibiting non-essential travel between regions from December 21st-January 6th. The rules will be even stricter on Christmas Day itself, with a ban on travelling between towns and ‘comunes’ in place on December 25-26th, and on New Year's Day, as the government seeks to avoid a third wave of coronavirus infections being triggered by socialising over the festive period.

"From December 21st 2020 to January 6th 2021, travel between different regions (including those to or from the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano) will be prohibited, with the exception of travel for proven work reasons, situations of necessity or health reasons," a government press releasestated on Thursday morning. On December 25th and 26th 2020 and January 1st 2021, travel between different municipalities will also be prohibited, with the same exceptions."

The restriction would apply nationwide even if, as ministers hope, all regions are downgraded to lower-risk yellow zones this month. Non-essential travel between one ‘comune’, or municipality, and another is currently banned in Italian regions designated high-risk red and orange zones.

The statement clarified that travel "will always be possible, even from 21 December to 6 January, to return to one's residence or home." However, there will be limits on visiting second homes during the holidays.

"From December 21st 2020 to January 6th 2021 it will be forbidden to travel to second homes located in a region or autonomous province other than one's own. On December 25th and 26th 2020 and January 1st 2021, the ban will also apply to second homes located in a municipality other than their own."

As well as this law, Italy's prime minister is due to sign off on a new emergency decree – formally called a DPCM (Decreto del presidente del consiglio, or 'prime minister's decree') - containing rules covering the next month, including the Christmas period, by Friday, December 4th.
A draft text of the new DPCM has been circulated to regional governments and will be debated, and very likely amended, before being signed later today (Thursday the 3rd). The new DPCM will remain in place until after Epiphany on January 6th, ministers said on Wednesday, though no firm date has been announced yet.

The government has said that the 10pm curfew throughout Italy will remain in place, and that restaurants must stay closed in orange and red zones. Ministers are also set to announce whether non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen in red zones under the new decree, and whether restrictions will be placed on holiday resorts and international travel. Health minister Roberto Speranza told parliament that international travel over the festive season "should be discouraged". “It will be necessary to avoid potential gatherings in places of tourist attraction linked in particular to skiing activities," Speranza said. The Italian and German governments are pushing for a ban on ski holidays across Europe over Christmas, amid fears resorts could become a major source of coronavirus infections. But the plan faces opposition from regional leaders, and from the Austrian government, which is currently easing its coronavirus restrictions.

Italy, the first European country to be hit by the pandemic early this year, has faced a new surge in infections in recent months that has taken the total death toll past 56,000. With the introduction of the last emergency decree in early November, shops, restaurants and bars in the worst-affected regions were shut and a nationwide curfew was imposed, measures that Speranza said had brought infection rates down in the country. However, many Italian regions are still struggling with high transmission rates, and health experts have warned against relaxing the rules just yet.