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Coronavirus Rome - Travel questions answered

Updated July 06, 2020

Looking for the latest news about the Coronavirus Rome? What's the situation here? What's it like in Rome right now? Should you cancel your trip to Italy? Can you plan your trip to Italy?

WHAT'S OPEN IN ROME AS OF JULY 6, 2020

Schools will reopen in September


LOOSENING OF RESTRICTIONS - RULES and PROTOCOLS

  • We must still maintain social distancing.
  • Masks must be worn indoors and on public transport.
  • No large groups or gatherings are allowed (with small exceptions as noted).
  • For all businesses reopening, there are strict protocols regarding wearing masks, maintaining social distance, using hand sanitizer, and proper sanitization, disposal, and use of any utensils/equipment.

The government reserves the right to revoke any of these re-openings if the number of infections starts climbing dramatically, and/or if people do not obey the rules.

Fines and sanctions are still applicable and will be enforced for transgressors.

JULY - BORDER OPENINGS

As of July, a lot of things have changed. 

  • We can move across regions within Italy without restrictions.
  • Anyone coming from elsewhere in the EU and Schengen countries (including the UK) can come to Italy without being required to undergo a 2-week quarantine on arrival in Italy.
  • As of this writing, anyone entering the UK, even UK citizens returning from another country in Europe, must undergo a 2-week quarantine. As of July 4, this requirement has been removed for travel between the UK and Italy however.
  • Some European countries are imposing restrictions on people visiting from other European countries. This is a developing story and subject to frequent changes.
  • As of this writing, the EU have updated their travel advice to state that visitors to the EU from specific countries are allowed to enter EU countries from July 1, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, for any reason and without a quarantine requirement. However, visitors from countries of origin that are deemed to have high infection rates will not be allowed to travel to the EU (unless for an existing reason of proven work needs, health reasons or a different urgent reason). This currently includes the USA, with the list to be reviewed every 2 weeks.
  • The EU advice is not binding on EU countries however, with each individual country able to decide whether they will accept the EU recommendations or not. Italy has decided that while they will accept travelers from the 14 countries deemed as safe by the EU, there will be a mandatory 14-day quarantine and isolation period for each person who enters Italy from these countries, regardless of the reason for visiting. Please check the Italian Ministry of Health's website (page is in English and Italian) for the detailed rules for travelers:

http://www.salute.gov.it/portale/nuovocoronavirus/dettaglioContenutiNuovoCoronavirus.jsp?lingua=english&id=5412&area=nuovoCoronavirus&menu=vuoto

  • Many of these border reopening rules and protocols are changing and evolving quickly. Please stay tuned. I will continue to update this page with new info as we get it.

Museums in Rome - reopening news and regulations

Vatican - Saint Peter's Basilica and Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums (and Saint Peter's Basilica) have been cleaned and sanitized.

The basilica is open as of May 18. The museums and gardens opened. There are a lot of new rules and new hours. You can read them on the Vatican Museums newly-designed website here.

We visited and it's an amazing experience, with very few people.

Right now, advance booking is mandatory (the Vatican Museums will waive the 4€ fee right now). Entrances will be staggered and timed. You must be punctual. Wearing a mask inside is mandatory.

Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Roman Forum

The archeological park that includes the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill have reopened, with most areas accessible. The exceptions to this are the SUPER sites and the platforms overlooking the Circus Maximus. You also cannot access the Imperial Forums.

There are new hours and rules, along with a new app - find out all the new information on the Colosseum's official website here.

Rome underground sites still closed

Most underground sites such as the catacombs, Domus Aurea, and Colosseum underground will remain closed for now.

Rome Museum regulations for visiting

Some of the requirements that seem to be becoming standard for visiting Rome museums include:

For every museum, advance online booking is mandatory. Visits will be staggered and timed. You must be punctual.

Other new features include thermal scanners at the entrance, downloadable audioguides on smartphones, and frequent sanitisations during the day.

Some museums are extending their hours to allow locals to visit more easily and to avoid large numbers of visitors arriving at the same time - check each individual museum's website for specific days and timings.



Coronavirus Rome - Answers to your questions

I've been getting lots of similar questions about the Coronavirus in Rome via email and across all my social media channels, so I wanted to create a place to answer them:

Watch my latest video to find out what life in Rome is like after the Coronavirus lockdown:

My take on the Coronavirus Rome

Please note I am not a medical professional or a public health official.

I have no authority to tell you what you should or CAN do about travel to Rome, Italy, or anywhere, now or in the future.

But since I've been getting asked so much about the situation here, I wanted to give you my perspective on how things are for those of us who live and work in Rome.

I'll also give you some links to authoritative sources you SHOULD rely on if you are trying to decide whether to travel to Rome, to Italy, or even at all.

Coronavirus Rome Italy - Campidoglio and the office of the Mayor of Rome on March 8, when sites and museums were closed across Italy.

Coronavirus Rome Italy

What's the situation in Rome right now?

When everything went on lockdown on March 9, people across Italy complied. However, life carried on. People were walking their dogs, going to the grocery and pharmacy, and doing basic things to live life as best we could under the circumstances. 

As of the second half of May, things began opening back up and restrictions started loosening (see above).

As of the beginning of July, there is much more movement outside than before, but you will still find very empty streets and piazzas at times. If you follow me on social media, you will see my pix of empty piazzas and monuments. However I have started hearing non-Italian voices and seeing some tourists starting to enjoy the city again, which I am very happy to see!

I think that a lot of the piazzas and monuments are quiet during the day because we have very few tourists, and also because Romans are busy working and taking care of their children. I think also that when Romans are going out, they are heading to the parks which are indeed full.

Many people tell me they love seeing my photos of an empty Rome. They say how nice it must be to see these sights with so few people.

Yes, it's nice. Sort of. It's also terrible. I hear so many business owners wondering if they are going to make it. Rome needs tourists. We miss you and we need you.

Is it safe to be in Rome right now?

We feel safe going around Rome. We obeyed the law and at first limited our outings to grocery shopping and short walks in our neighborhood. As restrictions have eased, we continue to go out, maintaining a sense of caution.

We don't always wear masks when outside unless we see we are nearing other people. We are keeping more than the 1-meter (3-feet) distance from others, as decreed.

We ALWAYS wear masks inside.

Alessandro and I personally feel safe. We are following the rules and common sense health and hygiene practices as we always have done.

Can you walk around Rome?

As of June 1, we can go anywhere in Italy without needing any papers to justify where we are going (as we did before). 

We must all follow the rules whether outside or inside, and keep at least 1 meter (about 3 feet) distance between ourselves and others.

Coronavirus Rome - What is closed in Rome and what's open?

Just in the first 10 days of March, the situation changed dramatically.

At the beginning of March, I would have told you that it was ok to be here in Rome, because everything was open. Except for the catacombs.

On March 8 the government decreed that all museums and archeological sites would close until April 3. That moved to May 3.

Coronavirus Rome - all museums and archeological sites across Italy closed in March. They are now slowly starting to reopen.

Coronaviris Rome - What's open

Now it's the beginning of July. Almost everything has reopened, if slowly. 

Churches, piazzas, parks, hotels are all open. Shops, bars, restaurants, hairdressers, and nail salons are all allowed to open, and most have now done so.

Coronavirus Rome update - as of March 10, Saint Peter's Basilica is closed to the public.

Saint Peter's Basilica and Saint Peter's Square reopened on May 18, with the Vatican Museums, Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Forum area, Capitoline Museums, Borghese Gallery, the Pantheon and many other major museums and sites now open also.

All types of shops are now allowed to be open.

Is Coronavirus in Rome?

As of the time of writing, there have been a total of just over 8,100 TOTAL confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the Lazio region since tracking began in early March. You can follow this here:

What should you do? What can you do?

No matter where you are in the world, you can take the precautions suggested by the Italian Health ministry and the World Health Organization. The most important of these are:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible
  • When around others, keep a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet)
  • Thoroughly wash and dry your hands as often as you can, especially after you use the bathroom and after you have been outside.

You can also check the website of your country's embassy for up-to-date information and notifications.

Here is the website of the US Embassy in Italy, regarding Covid-19.

Here is the UK official statement on the situation regarding Covid-19 and Italy.

Should you cancel your trip to Italy?

If you have a trip planned to visit Italy any time in the near future or even in the summer or fall, you may be wondering if you should cancel your trip.

Since the situation is developing, it's hard to know how it will effect travel plans in the near term. Nobody can know when this will all "blow over."

In part, it will be up to you and your family to decide what is right for you. In part, it may be out of your hands, as companies and governments place restrictions where they feel it's important to do so.

What I can tell you is that we in Italy all hope you will come to Italy as soon as you can.

The economy, in particular the tourism-based economy, has been crushed because of this situation. We need you now more than ever before.

If you have tickets for sometime this summer or fall, I suggest waiting to see what happens. 

Check flights now:

Can you plan a trip to Italy?

Many of you are asking WHEN you can come visit Rome and Italy. I wish you could come right now. The city is clean and beautiful and smells amazing with lots of flowers, and the start of the summer heat is covering the city in wonderful colors.

We need you here and miss you so much.

As to when you will be allowed to come...

Italy has never banned travel into the country. There has been, however, a 2-week mandatory quarantine for anyone coming in from outside. Also, many flights were reduced (but not completely cancelled as people were allowed to travel to repatriate and/or for work or medical reasons).

Another factor is that YOUR country may have cut off flights to Italy and/or issued travel advisories that urged people not to visit Italy.

As of June 3, if you are from an EU country (including the UK, Switzerland and Monaco), you are allowed to come freely to Italy without any 2-week quarantine! We can also travel to other EU countries.

This is very exciting for all of us and we are so happy to welcome you back.

If you are from a country outside the EU, at the moment travel into Italy from elsewhere is not allowed. As of July 1 some EU countries have started allowing visitors from non-EU countries, but Italy has chosen to opt out of any further border relaxations for the moment.

The EU-wide travel advice will be reviewed every 2 weeks, so the situation is likely to change. Once travel is allowed, the country where you live may have different rules about what you are allowed to do. It may depend on the airlines, and it will surely depend on your personal situation.

All I can say is to please keep following me, here and on social media, as I update you. Just know how much we want you to come back to visit us.

How to help Italy and Italian businesses

The Italian economy has been devastated by this situation. Besides people working in tourism, the grinding to a halt of the Italian economy trickled down to many people across socio-economic statuses, sectors, and geographic regions.

I and so many people I know work directly in tourism, and as you can imagine, this has had a brutal effect on us all.

If you want to help, here are some options:

  • Italian Red Cross - There is a link right on their home page where you can donate towards the coronavirus crisis
  • The Cats at Largo Argentina - This volunteer organization depends on donations to care for and feed the cats who live there
  • Girl in Florence - Georgette Jupe has a really diverse list of options for helping local businesses.
  • Revealed Rome - Amanda Ruggieri also has some excellent suggestions about who to follow for Coronavirus Rome and Italy news, and how to help small businesses.
  • Elizabeth Minchilli just shared her insightful views about life in lockdown while in Umbria, and gave some excellent resources and suggestions for how to help.
  • Gillians Lists - Gillian McGuire also has some superb ideas for how to help.
  • An American in Rome - Natalie Aldern Kennedy has a page about where you can donate. 
  • La Vita Roma - Abbie Stark has a great writeup of how we are coping, and also offers tips for how to help.
  • The Sewing Cooperative - This non-profit helps refugees living in Rome. These people create beautiful garments with cloth that has African-inspired designs and colors. They are now creating masks, and I bought 3 and love them! 1 for 10€, 3 for 25. And they will personally deliver to you if you are in Rome.
  • Visit my page about Learning Italian. Many local schools are offering online courses.

What is the Coronavirus? What is Covid-19?

Coronaviruses have been around a very long time.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)."

The most recently identified virus is called Novel Coronavirus, which basically means "new Coronavirus." Covid-19 is the disease caused by the Novel Coronavirus.

Covid-19 is something like a regular flu virus, except it's likelier to be deadlier (but we don't know), and it seems to be more contagious (although we don't know), and we do not yet have a vaccine for it.

WE DON'T ACTUALLY KNOW THE RATE OF INFECTION

There is no correct statistic right now that tells us the rate of infection, the survival rate, or the death rate.

We only have some data telling us the number of infected people that WE KNOW ABOUT, and a definite number of people who have died.

BUT WE DO NOT HAVE A DENOMINATOR!

This means we don't know the total population of people infected in a a given region or in the world, because testing people to see if they have the virus has been inconsistent.

Covid-19 symptoms

Symptoms of the Coronavirus Covid-19 show up 2-14 days after exposure. They include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Do not panic! These symptoms can also indicate any number of other illnesses including the cold, flu, and other viral infections.

What can you do to protect yourself? The following is true anywhere in the world, not just in Rome, Italy.

So far, we don't have a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 but many common-sense personal hygiene practices will go a long way towards preventing your exposure to the virus.

From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • CDC recommends that people wear a face mask or cloth face cover when around others to protect other people in case you are infected, whether you feel sick or not. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

Coronavirus and Italy

Why are there so many cases of Coronavirus in Italy

When we first learned of the Coronavirus, Italy was at the forefront. It was in Rome that scientists first isolated and identified the virus. And Italy began immediately to test people for it. As a result, they quickly found many people infected.

The World Health Organization has praised Italy's reaction, and actions taken by the Italian Ministry of health:

"Dr Dina Pfeifer, in charge of clinical management and team lead, highlighted Italy’s commitment, since the beginning, to tackle to the outbreak. “We appreciate the difficulties that the current situation poses and acknowledge the efforts of the Ministry of Health as well as other national and regional authorities to address it. This is indeed a whole-of-government collaboration, and we are grateful for the transparent information-sharing that is critical for us to better understand this outbreak and support response efforts,” she said."

So, thanks to Italy's aggressive testing, it was easier to get a handle on the number of people infected, and to begin addressing the situation.

It may be that Italy does not have proportionately more people with Coronavirus. It may turn out that they simply counted more people with it right from the beginning. But we don't know yet.

Where is the Covid-19 virus in Italy?

As of March 8, 2020, most of the cases of Coronavirus in Italy were in the north. (They still are as of the time of writing.)

In fact, the region of Lombardy was originally the only part of Italy considered a "red zone". On March 9, the entire country was considered a red zone.

As of July 6, the majority of the cases remain specifically in the region of Lombardy (where Milan is). Here again is the link to the data map. It's in Italian but it's easy to understand and you can see the regions and the numbers.

Coronavirus/Covid-19 - useful links and resources


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