Italy bans entry from 13 countries over covid-19 fears

Italy closes borders to 13 countries at high risk of covid-19.

Italy has banned entry to people arriving from 13 countries that it said presented an excessive rate of covid-19 infections.

The list of 13 nations compiled by Italy's health ministry comprises Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Kuwait, North Macedonia, Moldova, Oman, Panama, Peru and Dominican Republic.

The travel ban affects anyone who has stayed in or travelled through these countries during the previous 14 days, health minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement on 9 July.

Italy has suspended all direct and indirect flights to and from the 13 'high-risk' countries, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

Citing "maximum prudence", Speranza said that Italy could not "nullify" the sacrifices made by Italians over the last few months.

The move comes two days after Italy ordered the temporary suspension of flights from Bangladesh following a spike of coronavirus cases traced back to people arriving in Rome from Dhaka.

"We cannot allow [covid-19] positive and unmonitored people to come in from foreign countries," said Italy's premier Giuseppe Conte, citing as an example Bangladesh where there are "no checks" on outgoing passengers, reports ANSA.

On 8 July airports in Rome and Milan sent Bangladeshi passengers back on the same planes in which they arrived as health authorities in Lazio undertake a major covid-19 testing programme among the resident Bangladeshi community.

Earlier this week the governor of Italy's north-eastern Veneto region introduced a €1,000 fine for anyone caught breaking the quarantine rules after a Vicenza businessman caused a fresh outbreak of covid-19 following his return from Serbia.

On 3 June Italy reopened to tourists from the European Union and the Schengen Area, allowing unrestricted travel after months of lockdown due to the covid-19 crisis, however travel restrictions remain in place for visitors from most countries outside Europe, including the US.

On 1 July the EU reopened its borders to travellers from a list of "safe countries" whose citizens now have quarantine-free access to the EU: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Montenegro, Morocco, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

The EU says that China could also be added to this list but only if Beijing reciprocates by permitting entry to EU nationals.

However Italy decided to opt out and retain its quarantine regulations for all nations that are not part of the free-travel Schengen area.

Photo La Repubblica