Sat | Jul 4, 2020

Italy opens borders ahead of neighbours, beckoning tourists

Published:Wednesday | June 3, 2020 | 9:10 AM
Andrea Monti hugs his girlfriend Katherina Scherf arrived from Dusseldorf, Germany at Rome's Fiumicino airport, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

ROME (AP) — Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport sprang back to life Wednesday as Italy opened regional and international borders in the final phase of easing its long coronavirus lockdown, but it was still an open question how other nations would accept Italian visitors.

Families and loved ones separated by the global pandemic could finally reunite but normalcy was a long way off.

Italy is the first European country to fully open its international borders, dropping the 14-day quarantine requirement for visitors.

But most European nations see Italy’s move — which aims to boost its collapsed yet critical tourism industry — as premature.

Many of them are moving to open only on June 15 — and some even much later than that.

Who gets to go where in Europe this summer is shaping up to be determined by where you live, what passport you carry and how hard-hit your region has been during the pandemic.

At Rome’s international airport, Andrea Monti embraced his girlfriend, Katherina Scherf, in an emotional reunion as she arrived from Duesseldorf, Germany.

“We haven’t seen each other since before the pandemic,” Monti said.

Still, the airport remained lightly used even though Italy’s national holiday on Tuesday normally kicks off the summer domestic tourism season.

It was scheduled to handle several thousand passengers on Wednesday, compared to 110,00 passengers on the same day last year.

Italy also resumed high-speed train service between regions for the first time since the lockdown in early March, checking departing passengers’ temperatures as they accessed the tracks.

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