Venice hopes to restart business as COVID-19 curbs are lifted

Venetians breathed a sigh of relief on Monday when the lagoon city finally moved into a low-risk “white zone” for COVID-19, which meant that most pandemic restrictions were lifted and a night curfew was lifted.

Face masks and social distancing rules remain in place, but bars and restaurants are allowed to stay open for an unlimited period – something locals hope will draw visitors back.

“The work has started a little. I am confident,” said resident Gino D’Ambrosio.

Italy has recorded more than 126,000 coronavirus deaths since the epidemic broke out last year, the second highest number in Europe after the UK. But cases have fallen significantly as a vaccination campaign gains traction and restrictions are eased across the country.

Italy has put in place a four-tier, color-coded system – white, yellow, orange and red – to calibrate the curbs in its 20 regions. Veneto, which includes Venice, was one of four regions moved to the white zone on Monday, joining three others already classified as low risk. The rest are all yellow.

Mandatory quarantine for travelers from the European Union, the UK and Israel who tested negative for COVID-19 has been lifted, but so far few foreigners have ventured to Venice, which typically attracts 30 million visitors a year.

“To see Venice so without many tourists is really sad. I hope it will pass quickly,” said the Venetian resident Tiziana Alterio.

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