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PLANET SKI REPORTS ON THE SITUATION IN ITALY

The whole country is under quarantine due to the coronavirus crisis. PlanetSKI reports on all the latest from Italy, our winter home for this season.

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UPDATE, THURSDAY PM

Regular readers will know PlanetSKI was based in Italy this winter in the Aosta Valley.

We left as the country went into lockdown and before the strict rules on self-isolation came into force.

We left many friends behind.

We re-produce an article in The Local  that answers the questions about what people in Italy can, and can’t, do.

Can I leave my house?

Yes – but the government has on Wednesday asked everyone to stay indoors unless they have an urgent need to go out, such as for work or a medical appointment, or to buy food.

You’ll also need to fill out a form when leaving the house declaring your reasons for doing so.

Are taxis running?

Yes. Public transport and taxis are still running in Italian cities, but whether there’s anyone to take them is another matter.

If you’re travelling outside your local area, you may be stopped and asked by police to state your reasons for travel.

Are people allowed to travel at all?

People are being asked to stay within the comune in which they are a resident where possible. You can travel between areas for:

  • An urgent, proven work-related reason
  • Health reasons
  • “Situations of need”, for example if there are no shops open in your area selling basic necessities.
  • Returning home

How will they enforce these restrictions?

Anyone found breaking the quarantine rules can face criminal charges, fines of up to 206 euros, and potentially up to three months in prison, Italy’s interior ministry confirmed on Thursday.

Authorities are relying on citizens to “self certify” when stating their reasons for moving around, though people may need to show evidence of their need to travel – for example, of having an urgent medical appointment – and anyone found to have made a flase claim could face criminal charges.

Are people banned from going to work?

There’s no blanket ban on going to work, but the government has ordered many businesses to close and has urged others to to send staff home – either by putting them on leave, or arranging for them to work remotely.

If your employer has not done this, you will be allowed to travel to work.

Some businesses, such as factories, are allowed to remain open, while essential services such as public transport, utilities, and medical services are “guaranteed” to be available, the Prime Minister said on Wednesday.

Commuters will need to fill out the standardised form declaring their reason for travel – before every single journey – if leaving their commune.

Can we go shopping?

Supermarkets, food shops and pharmacies are the only shops allowed to remain open, and they are likely to have crowd control measures in place (such as a numbered ticketing system).

Following some panic buying after the strict measures were announced late Monday, the government has insisted there are no shortages of essential supplies.

Businesses such as clothes shops and hairdressers have been ordered to close.

Italy’s official quarantine FAQ states that “one person per family” should do the shopping.

You are allowed to leave your local area to buy essentials, such as food or medicine, if what you need is not available within your local comune.

Many Italian supermarkets are also now offering home delivery and accepting phone or online orders.

Are restaurants still open?

Restaurants and cafes had initially been allowed to stay open, but required customers to keep at least one metre away from each other. On Wednesday night, the government tightened the rules, requiring all restaurants and cafes to close completely.

Can I order a takeaway?

Yes. This was a concern for many of The Local’s readers as the rules changed on Wednesday night, but the government has said home deliveries are permitted, and this includes cooked food from restaurants and pizzeries, as well as  groceries from the supermarket, despite the fact that restaurants are currently closed to the public.

Many other food shops including butchers, fishmongers and gelaterias have also now announced a home delivery service.

You can’t pick up a takeaway from your favourite restaurant, however – you’ll need to call and request a home delivery.

Some restaurants and pizzerias have however decided to shut down completely on Thursday.

Are government offices still open?

The decree states that “essential and urgent” services provided by government offices are guaranteed.

Your local anagrafe (registry office) or agenzia delle entrate (tax office) may be operating under reduced hours, with reduced staff, and/or on an appointment-only basis during the quarantine measures.

Many offices on Thursday displayed notices warning that a restricted number of people would be allowed inside the building at any one time, and encouraging people to go online to make an appointment.

Can I take the dog out?

Yes. Italy’s Interior Ministry has confirmed on Thursday that you can take your dog out to do its business as well as to go to the vet. Although only one person at a time should be taking the dog out.

Is public transport running?

Public transport is running, but you should check with your local transport operator for any schedule changes before leaving.

Trains and numerous flights continued to operate following the introduction of the new measures – though many airlines have now cancelled flights to and from Italy – so it is likely transport will continue across the country.

Can I leave Italy to return home? 

Yes. Anyone visiting from overseas will be allowed to travel to the airport or train station in order to return home.

If you live in Italy and you’re currently in a different part of the country to the one you’re resident in, you’re also allowed to travel home.

Do I need to cancel my trip to Italy?

Many countries are now warning against all but essential travel to Italy, and the US has on Thursday announced a complete ban on travelling to countries in Europe which are part of the Schengen zone (which includes Italy).

Depending on your country’s current travel advice, it may be irresponsible to travel at the moment and could invaldate your travel insurance. Please check with your embassy and travel operator before travelling.

If you do need to travel, you may be subject to health checks before boarding planes as well as upon arrival. Many tourists have cancelled trips, and airlines have scrapped scores of flights to the country..

All tourist sites are now closed, as are cafes, restaurants, cinemas and theatres.

The restrictions will be in place until April 3rd.

If you have a trip booked after that, you might want to wait and see how the situation evolves before making a decision on whether to cancel.

You’d be unlikely to be able to get a refund from your travel company for trips booked after the quarantine period.

Will there be police in every village?

There are police checkpoints on main roads and at transport hubs, where people may be stopped and asked to state their reasons for travel.

Within towns and villages, local police may stop pedestrians and ask them to give their reasons for being outside (see above). However, as of Thursday no extra street patrols have been announced.

Are weddings and funerals really banned?

Yes, and you can get into big trouble for holding or taking part in a funeral procession or wedding reception at the moment.

The funeral ban only applies to the public ceremony however. Burials continue, and priests are still able to conduct blessings behind closed doors.

Can I still get parcels and mail delivered from overseas?

Yes. The Italian post office is operating as normal, and that includes air mail, except for in the Lombardy region – the area worst hit by the outbreak.

Everywhere else, the only change during the quarantine period is that postal workers will now be leaving mail and parcels in hallways rather than delivering them by hand in oder to avoid physical contact.

Amazon deliveries are still arriving as normal as of Tuesday.

Should I go to my doctor’s/dentist’s/hospital appointment?

If you have a previously scheduled medical appointment, check with your doctor’s office. Some clinics may be rescheduling non-urgent appointments.

If you have an urgent appointment in another town and it has not been rescheduled, you are allowed to go. Police are allowing people to travel for urgent medical appointments.

Can I visit my family in another town?

The government has stated that, while you can go to assist elderly relatives if needed, it’s recommended to limit contact with elderly people as much as possible to lower the risk of transmitting the virus to those most vulnerable.

Going to join your family for a meal is not seen as a valid reason for travel, however.

What if I’m in the middle of moving house?

One reader contacted The Local to ask: “During the quarantine, Is it possible to move to a new apartment if the lease at the current apartment has expired?”

While moving to a new apartment will undoubtedly be more difficult during this period, this is an unavoidable necessity and can therefore be classed as a “situation of need”.

There is no restriction on moving goods (or anmals) from one area to another.

Will mortgage and tax payments really be suspended?

The Italian government has announced that it will be introducing measures to allow people to suspend their mortgage and tax payments in an effort to ease pressure on households dealling with the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

There was no word however on whether renters would be allowed to delay payments.

UPDATE, THURSDAY AM

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced further measures to combat the spread of coronovirus.

The majority of shops as well as bars, hairdressers, restaurants and cafes that could not guarantee a metre’s distance between customers will close until 25 March.

Italy has more than 12,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 827.

Nearly 900 people with the virus in Italy were in intensive care, the WHO said.

Earlier this week it closed all its ski resorts and PlanetSKI left the country.

UPDATE, WEDNESDAY AM

 Lombardy may impose stricter restrictions

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he is not ruling out a stricter lockdown  in Lombardy,  one of the country’s worst hit areas.

It could result in the closing of shops, offices and public transport.

A total lockdown of the country was imposed on Tuesday affecting  60 million Italians.

The lockdown saw travel restrictions, people told to stay at home plus a ban on public gatherings.

The number of confirmed cases in Italy has reached 10,149, with 631 deaths.

The Covid-19 outbreak is growing across Europe, with the number of infections shooting up in recent days as testing increases.

Here’s a recap from the BBC, although the figures are changing all the time.

  • Italy – which has the highest number of cases outside China – has more than 10,000 infections and 631 deaths
  • France has reported 1,784 cases and 33 deaths
  • Spain has 1,689 cases and 36 deaths
  • Germany has 1,200 cases and at two deaths
  • Switzerland has 476 cases and three deaths
  • The UK has 382 cases and six deaths
  • The Netherlands has 382 cases and four deaths
  • Belgium, which has 267 cases, reported its first death connected to Covid-19.

GROUP OF GB SCHOOLCHILDREN SELF-ISOLATE

Pupils from the Sir William Robertson Academy in Welbourn, Lincolnshire, have arrived back from a school ski trip to the resort of Courmayeur in the Aosta Valley in Italy.

No restrictions were in place at the time of departure but now government advice has changed: all people leaving any part of Italy should self-isolate for 14-days.

In a letter to parents the Head teacher, Mark Guest, said “As you may be aware, the guidance for travellers returning from Italy has changed.”

“The current guidance is that anyone returning – from any part of Italy – should self-isolate for 14 days, even if they are exhibiting no symptoms.

He said parents had been kept updated and were “aware when they collected their children this morning that this would be the likely outcome”.

Arrangements were being made for the pupils to work from home.

Mr Guest also thanked pupils for “their resilience and cheerfulness despite the disappointment of their trip being cut short”.

80 people including students and pupils were on the ski trip.

Sir William Robertson Academy

Sir William Robertson Academy

UPDATE, TUESDAY PM

Latest advice for the Aosta Valley where PlanetSKI has been living this winter.

March 10, 2020

In Aosta Valley health monitoring is continuous, there are constant, transparent updates on the evolution of the situation by local authorities, and the Regional Health Service is organised to manage any cases of contagion.

In Aosta Valley, a Crisis Center was set up immediately, coordinated by the Regional Civil Protection, to manage the various situations related to the emergency of the Covid-19 virus.

All healthcare facilities are controlled and a space has been set up for the preventive triage of any patients who enter the emergency room of the Umberto Parini Hospital in Aosta.

Restrictions

The following restrictive measures, approved by the Italian government on the 8 March 2020, are valid throughout the national territory and, therefore, also in the Aosta Valley region:

-closure of museums, castles and places of culture, including libraries
-closure of discos, game rooms, Casino de la Vallée
-restaurant and bar activities are open wiith limited access, suitable to avoid gatherings of people, -respecting the interpersonal safety distance of at least one metre.  Closure of bars and restaurants at 6.00 pm
-suspension of events and shows and closure of cinemas and theatres
-suspension of sport events and competitions
-closure of the ski lifts and snowparks until the end of the ski season. Summer skiing in Breuil-Cervinia will open according to future dispositions
-closure of the Skyway cable car
-closure of the cross-country ski tracks
-closure, on public holidays and on the eve of public holidays, of medium and large stores, as well as stores located in shopping centers and markets. The closure is not envisaged for pharmacies, drugstores and food stores

These restrictive measures are valid until April 3, 2020

Arrivals and departures

The access and the movement in the Aosta Valley, as well as throughout Italy are limited to only trips justified by demonstrated work requirements or situations of need or transfers for health reasons. Return to your home is allowed.

Information is always available

The Coronavirus Emergency Crisis Center of the Aosta Valley Autonomous Region has activated the toll-freenumber 800.122.121 for non-medical information on the procedures that have been implemented for the management of coordinating actions of prevention and control.

For medical information, instead, or to report symptoms of flu or respiratory problems, call 112.

Monitoring by the Aosta Valley Health Authority is constant in order to prevent and to isolate any cases of infection.

Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta Valley, Italy

easyJet

Easyjet has confirmed that it has cancelled all of its flights to and from Italy for the next two days.

The airline is in the process of reworking its schedule.

It’s likely that Easyjet will follow other airlines and cancel the vast bulk of flights for the coming weeks.

However, it’s probable that a handful of flights will be kept to ensure that British nationals in Italy who need to travel back to the UK, can do.

British Airways

BA has cancelled all flights to and from Italy.

“In light of the Italian government’s announcement and the UK government’s official travel advice, we have contacted all customers who are due to travel today (10 March),” it said in a statement.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has warned against all but essential travel to Italy.

There are currently 9,172 cases of Covid-19, in Italy and 463 people have died.

Austria

Austria has announced a ban on Italians entering the country unless they carry a medical certificate.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Austrians returning from Italy would have to self-isolate for two weeks.

Austria has seen 158 cases of coronavirus so far.

Mr Kurz said the number was still very low but the disease was deadly.

Austria and Italy share a border north of Italy’s South Tyrol region.

On Tuesday the Sud Tyrol  saw all its ski resorts closed.

In common with the rest of Italy it closed all cultural centres and restricted access to bars and cafes to daytime hours.

UPDATE, TUESDAY AM

Italy’s Patient No.1 – the country’s first known virus case – has moved out of intensive care for the first time since he tested positive for the virus on 21 February.

However, the virus continues to spread across the country.

The death toll in the country stands at 463.

All the ski resorts are shut and the whole country in lockdown.

Norwegian Air suspends Italy flights

The airline has suspended all its flights to and from Italy because of the virus, it said on Tuesday.

It’s not known when they will resume.

UPDATE, MONDAY PM

It is unprecedented.

Every single ski resort is now shut under government orders to fight the Covid-19 virus amid escalating deaths and cases.

The Aosta Valley government, with the lift companies, closed all its ski resorts on Monday.

These include Cervinia, Courmayeur, Pila, Champolouc, La Thuille and Gressoney, plus a host of smaller resorts.

The announcement was made on Sunday.

On Monday the ski resorts in the Dolomites followed suit.

DOLOMITES SKI RESORTS TO CLOSE

Dolomiti Superski, in agreement with the major entities and in coordination with the political authorities, has decided to end the current ski season.

Here are the details from the ski area:

“This in consideration of the rapid spread of the coronavirus in the Italian territory and the potential risks of tourists, staff and local population in all the ski areas served by its lifts and in order to preserve first of all the health and tranquility of all.”

Resorts affected are Plan de Corones, Alta Badia, Val Gardena / Alpe di Siusi, Val di Fassa /Carezza, Arabba / Marmolada, 3 Cime Dolomiti, Val di Fiemme / Obereggen, San Martino di Castrozza Passo Rolle, Rio Pusteria – Bressanone, Alpe Lusia / San Pellegrino and Civetta.

The closure will take place by Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in order to allow an orderly return of the tourists currently hosted.

“We are extremely sorry to have to take this absolutely exceptional decision, but we believe that this step is of fundamental importance to stem as far as possible even in our territories with a very high tourist density, the rapid spread of the Coronavirus,” said the ski area in a statement.

“We would like to thank all the skiers we have hosted in our ski areas during this season and we hope to welcome them back soon in the Dolomites.”

The Dolomites

The Dolomites

VIALATTEA RESORTS IN ITALY CONSIDER COURSE OF ACTION

Sauze d’Oulx in the Milky Way indicated it may close next Sunday due to the coronavirus outbreak in the north of Italy.

It is outside the quarantine area.

We were told that other resorts in the area including Sestriere were considering their position.

And the news is that they have all  closed too.

Here on PlanetSKI we are launching a major campaign that will start now and run across the summer into next winter to encourage as many people as possible to ski in Italy next winter.

We need to support out Italian friends and their fabulous ski resorts.

More details to follow.

See the start of it on our Facebook page.

UPDATE, Monday AM

MONT BLANC TUNNEL

Checks are being made on the Italian side of the tunnel as people leave northern Italy.

At the moment passports are being inspected by French-speaking officials and visual checks are being made on the occupants of vehicles.

Traffic remains flowing freely.

Mont Blanc tunnel

Mont Blanc tunnel

ISTM

The International Ski Travel Market goes ahead in Chamonix, France. 150 delegates gather from across the world snowsports industry.

“We have taken all the necessary precautions and acted on official advice with regard to coronavirus,” said the organiser of the event, Luke Bolton.

“We need a measured response, but business goes on and we must work together to find solutions.”

UPDATE, Sunday PM:

Chamonix lift company confirms closure of all Aosta Valley ski resorts on Monday:

“We also wish to inform the holders of MONT BLANC UNLIMITED ski passes that following a decision of the Italian regional government (majority shareholder of the ski areas as well as the Skyway), the facilities of the ski areas and ski lifts of the Aosta Valley will be closed at count tomorrow Monday March 9 and until further notice.”

Here at PlanetSKI we understand a news conference will be held this evening at 19.30.

Check out all the updates here on the web site and on our social media platforms.

Sunday’s announcement:

Anyone living in Lombardy and 14 other central and northern provinces will need special permission to travel.

Milan and Venice are both affected.

All events in “public and private spaces” are suspended said the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte.

The drastic measures will last until 3rd April.

Ski resorts in the Aosta Valley, Piedmonte, the Dolomites and elsewhere remain unaffected.

The measures, the most radical taken outside China, will last until 3rd April.

Italy has seen the largest number of coronavirus cases in Europe and reported a steep rise in infections on Saturday.

The strict new quarantine measures affect a quarter of the Italian population and centre on the northern part of the country where the majority of the ski resorts are.

The death toll in Italy has passed 230, with officials reporting more than 36 deaths in 24 hours.

The number of confirmed cases jumped by more than 1,200 to 5,883 on Saturday.

It is a massive shock for those skiers trapped in resorts and those that may have arrived on the Saturday transfer day.

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have now advised against all but essential travel to the Lombardy region of Italy,” said a statement from the UK ski operator, Inghams.

Livigno is the only ski resort that Inghams features in the region.

Our editor, James Cove, is in the Aosta Valley and will be updating us on the latest.

Here at PlanetSKI we will be updating this story shortly with all the other developments.

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