Italy is the latest country to be removed from England’s ever-diminishing travel corridor, with the number of overseas destinations that can now be visited without restrictions reduced to four.
From Sunday (18 October) travellers will have to quarantine for 14 days when they return home. It is understood the changes will come into effect from 4am on Sunday, giving 24 hours’ more warning than recent corridor changes.
The move follows news that Italy recorded its highest daily tally of new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday. Last week, Italy imposed new rules requiring visitors from the UK and other countries to provide evidence of a negative Covid test taken 72 hours before travel.
The announcement is the latest blow to holidaymakers who had hoped to visit Italy for this month’s half-term break or harboured hopes of a winter escape on the slopes.
The UK is the third-largest market for several Italian ski resorts, including Madonna di Campiglio in the northern Trentino region. An increase in domestic tourism led to a busy August and September, with visitor numbers almost back to usual levels, but for winter Bruno Felicetti, deputy director general of the resort’s lift company, predicts a loss of up to 30%. There will be fewer long-haul visitors and, given the new quarantine measures, a lack of British skiers, too.
“It’s usually half Italian tourists in the winter, half from overseas, but after Covid things will change a lot – new numbers, new activities, new people, new targets,” he said. “We are hopeful for a vaccine or an easy test by next year. It’s difficult for us to make any decisions. We may look at reducing prices and offering different activities.”
The news of Italy being added to the list comes a week after the UK government announced its “travel taskforce”, which will assess options for reducing the 14-day quarantine period, including testing. The group is due to report to the prime minister in “early November”, which could leave a limited timeframe to implement testing in time for winter travel.
Paul Charles of travel consultancy the PC Agency has been calling for testing of arrivals since May, and is optimistic about ski trips for UK travellers this year, if testing can be introduced swiftly.
“If the taskforce comes up with the right recommendations, and they can be implemented before the end of November, you could be in the position where the ski season benefits from a five-day quarantine,” he said.
Charles believes that if testing becomes available, the pent-up demand for travel could mean a last-minute surge in bookings. However, the issue then could be availability of flights, given the reduced capacity that several airlines have announced for the next six months.
“The challenge will be the airlift – with airlines such as easyJet operating at 25% of capacity for winter. So the real challenge could be that even if you wanted to go away, you might not get a seat.”