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Italians who visited Ireland for axed Six Nations tie can return home to quarantined provinces

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Women wearing pink protective masks pose in front of Milan Cathedral to mark International Women’s Day

Women wearing pink protective masks pose in front of Milan Cathedral to mark International Women’s Day

AFP via Getty Images

A couple take a selfie in front of a screen broadcasting Pope Francis’ Sunday prayers at St Peter’s Square

A couple take a selfie in front of a screen broadcasting Pope Francis’ Sunday prayers at St Peter’s Square

Women wearing pink protective masks pose in front of Milan Cathedral to mark International Women’s Day

Italian citizens who travelled to Ireland at the weekend will be allowed back to their homes in quarantined areas.

The Six Nations Ireland vs Italy game, which was due to take place on Saturday in Dublin, was cancelled by the Irish Government due to coronavirus fears.

Italy is the worst affected country in Europe and 16 million people were put under lockdown yesterday morning in its northern region in a bid to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Up to 5,000 tickets with travel support were issued in the lead-up to the match, due to take place at the Aviva Stadium.

It is believed that some Italians still travelled to Ireland on Friday night and Saturday morning, as they had flights and accommodation booked.

Seven flights from Italy arrived at Dublin Airport on Friday and three flights from Italy landed on Saturday.

The Italian embassy in Ireland has confirmed that the Italians who travelled over to Ireland will be permitted to re-enter the regions which are currently on lockdown if they are residents in that region.

While it is not known how many Italians travelled from Italy to Ireland over the weekend, the embassy believes that some may have kept their original travel plans before the game was cancelled.

"A new regulation has been approved last night which doesn't bar entry into the region for residents, we are confident that those outside of the Lombardy region and is a resident in the region will be able to go back," the embassy said.

Last night UK tourists were advised to avoid all but essential travel to a swathe of northern Italy, including the popular destinations of Venice and Milan.

Italy has now registered more cases of coronavirus than any country outside China, while its death toll has risen to 366.

Extraordinary measures put in place across Italy, affecting museums, cinemas, shopping centres and restaurants, will be in place until April 3.

In response, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) widened the area covered by its travel advice yesterday evening to warn against all but essential travel to a number of areas.

The advice covers the Lombardy region, including the cities of Milan, Bergamo and Como, and the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini - all in the Emilia Romagna region.

Also included are Pesaro and Urbino in the Marche region; Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and Vercelli in the Piemonte region; and Padova, Treviso and Venice in the Veneto region.

Previously the FCO had only advised against all but essential travel to 10 small towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto that had been put in isolation by the Italian authorities.

In guidance published on its website, the FCO said British nationals are still able to leave Italy without restriction.

The advice added: "Residents of other parts of Italy are permitted to leave the isolation areas to return home.

"Otherwise entry into and exit from these areas is forbidden without official permission on the grounds of strict necessity; the authorities have confirmed to us that this will be granted for reasons such as medical need or work requirements."

Yesterday Pope Francis did not deliver his usual blessing and remarks from a window in the Vatican.

Instead, a video of him reading his comments and reciting prayers standing at a lectern near a microphone in the Vatican's apostolic library was beamed on to the faithful on giant screens set up in St Peter's Square.

The bells of St Peter's Basilica tolled as the window opened and Francis appeared for a few seconds to wave to the people below in the square. However, he made no comments from the window, having already delivered the broadcast remarks.

The measure - announced on Saturday - was aimed at discouraging crowds from gathering in the square, where as many as 40,000 people can turn out to watch the Pope in the window.

However, several thousand tourists and faithful still turned out, scattered across the vast, cobbled square.

Belfast Telegraph