ROME—A queue of masked art lovers snaked around the Vatican Museum walls when it reopened on June 1 after being closed for 12 weeks. But these were no ordinary tourists—they were Romans. The museum opened two days before Italy lifted its nearly three-month lockdown, meaning movement within Italy’s various regions (as well as from outside the country) was still prohibited, so Romans could visit tourist-free. Museum director Barbara Jatta stood outside the entrance and welcomed many of the 1,600 people who reserved on the first day before they went in to get their temperatures checked. “Today is a day to celebrate, a day of great joy,” she said. “The significance of this reopening is hope. It is a great hope that we can return to normality.”
But “normality” for Italian tourism is still a long way off. When the external borders opened to E.U. citizens on June 3, only a few flights landed because travel restrictions are still in place almost everywhere else in Europe for another few weeks. But even after that, many countries will require anyone returning from an Italian holiday to quarantine for two weeks despite the country’s relatively low number of daily new cases. Some countries placing tough restrictions on Italy will not require visitors from other countries like Spain, which had more cases, to do the same, which will impact tourism into the country as much as it will affect those Italians hoping for a well deserved getaway.
Italy plans to open its borders to non-EU citizens later this summer, but it is yet unclear if those from the U.S., Brazil or Russia, where case numbers are still climbing, will have to quarantine or what those countries will do with European—and especially Italian—travelers.