COVID Restrictions Ease in Time for Tourist Season

Greece relaxes flight rules, as Italy drops health pass
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 1, 2022 11:32 AM CDT
COVID Restrictions Ease in Time for Tourist Season
People wear face masks as they step off a public bus Sunday in Rome.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

(Newser) – Italy and Greece relaxed certain COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, in a sign that life was increasingly returning to normal before Europe's peak summer tourist season. Greece's civil aviation authority announced that it was lifting all COVID-19 rules for international and domestic flights, except for the wearing of face masks during flights and at airports, the AP reports. Previously, air travelers were required to show proof of vaccination, a negative test, or a recent recovery from the disease.

Under a decree by Italy's health ministry, the country did away with the health pass that had been required to enter restaurants, cinemas, gyms, and other venues. The green pass, which showed proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus, or a recent negative test, is still required to access hospitals and nursing homes. Some indoor mask mandates also ended, including inside supermarkets, workplaces, and stores in Italy, which was the epicenter of Europe's outbreak when it recorded the first locally transmitted case on Feb. 21, 2020. Masks are still required on public transport, in cinemas and in all health care and eldercare facilities.

Until Sunday, patrons had to wear a mask to enter bars and restaurants, though they could remove them to eat and drink. Andrea Bichler, an Italian tourist from Trentino Alto-Adige, sat with similarly maskless friends at a bar near the Trevi Fountain in Rome. "It's much better,” Bichler said. "Let's say it's a return to life, a free life." Public health officials say masks are still highly recommended for indoor activities, and private companies can require them. As of Sunday, visitors to Italy no longer have to fill out the EU passenger locator form, a user-unfriendly online form required at airport check-in. Officials still urge prudence and stressed that the pandemic is not over. Italy is reporting 699 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and more than 100 deaths per day, with a total confirmed death toll of 163,500. But hospital capacity remains stable and under the critical threshold.

(Read more pandemic stories.)

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