Fake news spread that Italy will close borders to tourists until 2021

After misleading reports circulated this week in social media and in some international news outlets claiming that Italy had decided to close its borders to visitors until next year, thelocal.it presented the real facts on travel to Italy.

The Italian government has not announced any such measure, Clare Speak said.

The Italian embassy in Moscow on Tuesday denied reports in some Russian media outlets of an alleged statement concerning the closure of Italian borders until the end of this year by Italy's culture and tourism minister, Dario Franceschini. "The matter of Italy closing its state borders has not been discussed," the embassy stated.

Franceschini himself, when asked by Italian media about the claims in Italy's Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday, said: "As is all too obvious, I have never spoken, nor ever thought, of closing the Italian borders to tourists for 2020."

"I am working on the exact opposite. I proposed yesterday at the meeting of tourism ministers of the European Union, a European uniformity of the safety rules with respect to the risk of contagion, allowing the free movement of tourists within the European Union. So we're starting bilateral talks with other countries that have a lot of tourism going to to Italy," he added. "Unfortunately, it is clear that fake news on closed borders is being circulated, with hostile intentions towards our country."

And the president of Italy's National Tourism Agency, Giorgio Palmucci, stated: "Tourism in Italy will start again, with caution and maximum safety.  Minister Franceschini did well to clarify that no border closure is foreseen." Palmucci also noted that bad information and fake news risk creating serious damage and unjustified alarmism."

Technically, Italy's borders are not currently and never have been closed to tourism. But of course, though there's no ban on foreign visitors and most Italian airports are actually still open, the strict measures aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus make travel to and from the country nearly impossible at the moment.

Hotels are closed. Museums may be allowed to reopen from mid-May, and bars and restaurants could be allowed to open their doors from 1 June, according to the latest government decree announced on Sunday.

Italy joined the rest of the EU in mid-March in restricting all non-essential travel from outside the Schengen Zone - although the UK is exempt from this. That travel ban is set to continue until at least 15 May after the EU Commission invited members to prolong the border restrictions.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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