Austria to reopen border with Italy from mid-June

Austria to reopen border with Italy from mid-June
AFP
Austria announced on Wednesday it would reopen its border with hard-hit Italy from June 16th and allow free travel from most other European nations from that date as the country eases its coronavirus lockdown.

“Yes, we are opening the border. Yes, travelling to Italy, to Greece, to Croatia for example will be possible,” Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told a press conference.

Italy reopened to travellers from Europe on June 3, three months after going into coronavirus lockdown, but sparse arrivals dimmed hopes of reviving the key tourism industry as the summer season begins.

Last week Austria had already relaxed restrictions for travel to some neighbouring states but had excluded Italy, one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe.  

From June 16, Austria will welcome travellers from 31 countries without restrictions, including most of Europe.

Notable exceptions are Sweden, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom, Schallenberg said.

Travellers from those countries will still have to show a negative coronavirus test or undergo a two-week home quarantine.

A travel warning will also stay in place for Lombardy in northern Italy, which emerged as a coronavirus hotspot during the pandemic, Schallenberg said, explaining that the government was urging Austrians to avoid travelling there.

Schallenberg warned people to remain vigilant when travelling, noting that the pandemic had not yet been beaten.

“If you're packing your suitcase, please don't forget to take your common sense too,” he said.

Italy reopened to travellers from Europe on June 3, three months after going into coronavirus lockdown, but sparse arrivals have dimmed hopes of reviving the key tourism industry as the summer season begins.

Among Italy's other neighbours, Switzerland said Friday it would accelerate plans to open its borders, allowing people travelling from all European Union countries and Britain to enter from June 15.

Austria was among the first in the EU to announce March 10 that it was closing its borders with Italy to fight the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic.

Austria has been spared the brunt of the health crisis with some 16,900 coronavirus cases and fewer than 700 deaths so far among its population of nearly nine million.


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