UK markets closed

Coronavirus: Foreign Office advises all but essential travel to area of Italy in lockdown

Areas of northern Italy are subject to a lockdown that bans them from leaving. (Picture: REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo)

The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to Italy following the lockdown across the northern area of the country amid the spread of coronavirus.

However, despite the strict the measure in the country, which threatens Italians with a fine or three months in prison if they leave the quarantine zones, British tourists are still allowed to travel back to the UK from the lockdown zone.

More than a quarter of Italy’s population have been placed in mandatory quarantine as the government tries to stem the spread of the virus.

A decree signed at the weekend covers the Lombardy region, the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini in Emilia Romagna, Pesaro e Urbino in Marche, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and Vercelli in Piemonte and Padova. Treviso and Venice in Veneto.

Following the decision, the Foreign Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for Italy to advise against all but essential travel to the areas affected by the lockdown.

Read more: Teacher and Chinese wife thrown out of restaurant amid coronavirus fears

Read more: Families of cruise ship Britons call coronavirus quarantine a 'death sentence'

It says: “British nationals remain able to depart Italy without restriction. 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.”

Italy lockdown

The FCO advised tourists returning to the UK from Italy to consult the latest advice from the Department of Health and Social Care.

That advice instructs travellers returning from the lockdown areas in northern Italy to self-isolate for two weeks, even if they don’t have any symptoms.

The move seems to contrast with previous efforts made to stop the spread of the virus, which saw British tourists in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak started, flown back to the UK in a secure plane and quarantined for 14 days in an isolation compound.

It comes as there was a surge in coronavirus-related deaths in Italy, with the death toll reportedly rising from 133 to 366 in one day.