Italy last week imposed new rules, meaning visitors from the UK and other countries must provide proof of a negative Covid test taken 72 hours before travel.
Italy was one of the last European vacation hotspots that English travelers could visit without quarantining themselves on their return. Last year, UK residents made more than 5 million visits to Italy, according to estimates by the Office for National Statistics.
The Guardian understands that Vatican City and San Marino are also being removed from the travel corridor and that Crete is added, in moves that will likely be followed by decentralized nations, who have autonomy over such changes. It is understood that the changes will take effect from 4 a.m. on Sunday, giving 24 hours more warning than previous lane changes in recent weeks.
An official announcement is expected by Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps on Thursday afternoon.
Shapps has come under pressure from the aviation industry over the government’s failure to introduce a testing regime to reduce quarantine times for visitors. Last week he launched a “global travel task force” to explore the issue, and is due to report back next month.
Italy has the second highest number of Covid deaths on the continent, with 36,289 deaths since the start of the pandemic, but its daily cases are lower than in the UK.
Italy recorded 7,332 Covid-19 infections on Wednesday in the previous 24 hours, up from 5,901 on Tuesday. Italy’s former highest daily count was 6,557 new cases on March 21.
Italy reported 43 more Covid-related deaths on Wednesday, and the number of people in intensive care with the virus is increasing – 539 on Wednesday, up from 514 the day before.
The country’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, said he was determined to avoid another general lockdown. Italy on Tuesday imposed new restrictions on gatherings, restaurants, sports and school activities.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said, “Protecting public health remains our top priority as we work hard to enable a sustainable and responsible return of international travel. Decisions about international travel lanes are made using a series of factors, which allows for constant monitoring of data for all countries and territories.