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Italy opens up borders following months of hardship amid coronavirus

Italy opens up borders following months of hardship amid coronavirus
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Italy, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, became the first European nation to fully reopen its borders on Wednesday.

The nation ended the closure of regional and international borders and the end of a 14-day quarantine required for anyone entering the country, part of the final phase of its coronavirus lockdown, The Associated Press reported.

Italy has also resumed high-speed rail service between its regions since the early March lockdown, which at first was concentrated in the nation’s northern regions. Departing passengers will be subject to temperature checks, according to the AP.

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Italy is particularly dependent on summer tourism dollars, and the industry ground to a halt due to the pandemic. Greece, which has a similarly sized tourism sector, has also lifted several restrictions, allowing restaurants and cafes to reopen.

Other European nations have warned the move may be premature, and a number of countries in Europe are waiting until at least June 15 to take similar steps.

Germany, one of the European countries least devastated by the pandemic, will lift a travel warning for its European neighbors beginning June 15 but said it may still advise against travel on a case-by-case basis for countries such as the United Kingdom depending on individual countries’ progress against the virus. The country warned against any nonessential foreign travel in March.

Austria, meanwhile, will end border checks for neighbors except for Italy, citing ongoing concerns about the virus, particularly in the northern region of Lombardy, the original Italian hot spot for the pandemic. France is also examining a June 15 relaxation of border restrictions, although it has ended the quarantine requirement for French citizens crossing the border, according to the AP.

The U.K., meanwhile, said it will require a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving in the country beginning next week. Britain has surpassed Italy for the highest death toll in Europe from the virus, with nearly 39,500 deaths, according to the AP. Italy has seen just over 33,500 deaths.