VENICE, Italy (Reuters) – Venetians breathed a sigh of relief on Monday as the lagoon city finally moved into a low-risk COVID-19 “white zone”, meaning most pandemic restrictions were lifted and a nightly curfew scrapped.
Face masks and social distancing rules remain in place, but bars and restaurants are allowed to stay open without any time limits – something locals hope will entice back visitors.
“Work has started a little. I am hopeful,” said resident Gino D’Ambrosio.
Italy has registered more than 126,000 coronavirus deaths since the epidemic took hold last year, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain. But cases have fallen off significantly as a vaccination campaign gathers pace and restrictions are being eased across the country.
Italy has established a four-tier, colour-coded system – white, yellow, orange and red – to calibrate curbs in its 20 regions. Veneto, which includes Venice, was one of four regions to shift into the white zone on Monday, joining three others which were already deemed low-risk. The rest are all yellow.
Mandatory quarantine for travellers from the European Union, Britain and Israel who test negative for COVID-19 has been scrapped, but so far few foreigners have ventured back to Venice, which normally attracts 30 million visitors a year.
“To see Venice like this without many tourists is really sad. I hope it passes quickly,” said Venetian resident Tiziana Alterio.
(Reporting by Gabriele Pileri, Yara Nardi and Cristiano Corvino; Writing by Angelo Amante; Editing by Alex Richardson)