Italy to lift travel ban between regions on 3 June

Unrestricted travel between regions from 3 June sparks debate among Italy's local governors.

Italy has confirmed that unrestricted travel between regions can resume from 3 June as planned, the same day that the country reopens all airports in preparation for a gradual return to international tourism.

The confirmation, announced this weekend by Italian health minister Roberto Speranza, comes after the government reviewed the latest regional statistics relating to the covid-19 crisis, compiled by the country's health ministry and the Higher Health Institute (ISS).

The report described the current situation as "positive overall" but warned that there are "still signs of transmission" and "new hotspots", urging strict compliance to Italy's anti-contagion measures in place, including social distancing.

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The government's confirmation that it will lift internal travel restrictions on 3 June has caused division among Italy's local governors, with those in favour and against the uniform reopening of regions.

Several governors have particular concerns about allowing unrestricted access to and from the northern region of Lombardy, which has registered almost half of the country's 33,340 coronavirus fatalities.

The "no" front includes Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany and the southern region of Campania whose president Vincenzo De Luca says that a reopening of unrestricted travel including "provinces still heavily affected" by covid-19 is "incomprehensible."

However the mayor of Lombardy capital Milan, Beppe Sala, describes the move as the "right decision", stressing that "now is the time to give oxygen back to work."

The news was also welcomed by the regional presidents of Veneto, Liguria and Emilia-Romagna in the north, and Calabria in the far south.

For now, inter-regional travel remains prohibited unless for proven reasons of work, health or emergencies, until 3 June.