COVID-19 UPDATE: WELCOME BACK, ROME.
Italy became known to have the strictest lockdown during COVID-19. During its strictest times, the only places open were the grocery store, pharmacy, and bank. Self-declaration forms were required to be carried everywhere you were going and if you weren’t going to one of the allowed businesses you were fined. For almost two months, Italians were only allowed to visit with the people they lived with and were only allowed outside to go to one of the allowed businesses and to walk their dogs — this meant no running, biking, and leisurely walking. Very few restaurants offered no contact delivery and the ones that did had limited delivery zones.
On May 4th a few restrictions were loosened. Visiting friends was still prohibited but you were able to visit family that lived in your region (how would they really know who is family and who isn’t?), restaurants were allowed to open for takeout service, residents could resume outdoor activities like biking and running, and self-declaration forms were still required but with fewer stipulations.
Today marks a day many Italians were waiting for — to have some semblance of freedom again. As of today, many of the restrictions are being lifted. Every region has the autonomy to modify the rules based on what they feel is necessary and safe for its residents. Starting today, here is everything that is changing in Lazio (the region that includes Rome):
- Restaurants, cafés, and bars. There are strict rules about how far apart you’ll have to sit from others, including friends if you don’t live with them. Face masks will continue to be mandatory while you’re not eating or drinking. If you get up to use the restroom or pay the bill, you’ll need to wear your face mask. Buffets will continue to be prohibited.
- Retail stores, this includes malls. Every store is required to operate with a reduced capacity.
- Personal services like barbershops, hair salons, tattoo/piercing centers. Face masks will still be required unless it is necessary to remove like for trimming a beard.
- Museums, libraries, exhibitions, and archaeological sites. You can find more on the timeline of Rome’s sites with the Instagram post below.
- Outdoor markets
- Travel agencies
- Self-declaration forms are no longer required to travel within your region.
- Forms are still required to travel outside your region and will only be allowed for work, health/medical, emergencies, or other justifiable necessity. Visiting family members in other regions is still prohibited.
- We’re finally allowed to visit friends! Wearing a face mask and maintaining social distance is still required.
- Meeting with a large group of people indoors or outdoors is still not allowed unless there is enough space to guarantee everyone can maintain proper social distance.
- Public gatherings are still prohibited.
Beginning June 3rd, residents will be allowed to travel to other regions in Italy without a self-declaration form. Travel to Italy will also be allowed from Schengen countries without a mandated quarantine, regardless of the reason.
I’m so excited and so conflicted about the new changes, especially allowing others to visit without a quarantine. I’ll continue being cautious, taking it day by day. Our two-week quarantine ends on Thursday and we plan to do a lot of walking around town when we’re finally allowed. It’s a once in a lifetime experience to have Rome to ourselves without the tens of thousands of tourists every day. I’m not sure when we’ll head back to the restaurants and bars to drink and dine in (or even to get my hair cut — sorry mom!), but we will continue supporting them through takeout and delivery. I can’t wait to see my best friend and finally be able to cook together and drink Aperol spritz on the terrace again. International travel is probably off the table for 2020 and possibly even 2021, but we’re excited to explore the rest of Italy and all it has to offer.