Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte put the entire country on lockdown to slow the spread of a new coronavirus and blanket travel restrictions mean many people will have to cancel upcoming trips.
More than 9,000 people in Italy have become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, the biggest outbreak of the virus outside China, where it originated, according to the World Health Organization. Of those people, 463 have died and Conte stressed that the widespread restrictions on movement were necessary to protect others, including some who are most vulnerable, from the virus.
“Italy’s future is in our hands. We all do our part, giving up something for the good of the community. At stake is the health of our loved ones, our parents, our children, our grandparents,” Conte posted on Twitter.
Italians who want to move about must get police permission as only essential travel, described as work or family-related reasons that can’t be postponed, is permitted. Those entering the country will also have to justify their travel. In a few words, the prime minister summarized the quarantine policy that’s in place until April 3 as, “I stay home.”
Ahead of Monday’s announcement about the extended quarantine, airlines had already begun suspending or reducing flights to parts of Italy.
To accommodate passengers, Delta will allow people to cancel their flight if they’re scheduled to travel by May 31. The unused value can be applied to a new flight within a year of the original issue date. To cancel a trip, Delta told customers to go to the “My Trips” page on the company’s website, select “Modify Flight” and then choose “Start Flight Cancelation.”
United customers who purchased a ticket before February 26 and were scheduled to travel to Italy through June 30 had the option to switch their flight without paying a change fee or any difference in fare. To avoid paying a fare difference or change fee, tickets must be rebooked in the same cabin and going through the same cities.
If passengers wanted to reschedule for a flight that was set to take off after June 30, the change fee would still be waived but they’ll have to pay any difference in fare. Flights have to be rebooked within one year from when the ticket was issued.
All American customers who purchased tickets before March 1 can rebook their flight through December 31 without paying a change fee. But only those whose flights have been canceled can request a refund.
Italy’s quarantine restrictions began with the Lombardy and Veneto regions in an effort to contain initial outbreaks, prompting the U.S. State Department to tell Americans not to travel there. The rest of Italy remains under a Level 3 advisory, meaning people should reconsider travel.