The Italian island of Capri is now “COVID-free” and will soon reopen to international tourists, according to the region’s governor.
The famous tourist destination has eradicated the coronavirus thanks to a strong vaccination program, which has so far distributed at least one vaccine dose to 80% of its 15,000 residents and also inoculated non-resident tourist industry employees.
“Capri represents the restart of the whole of Italy,” Vincenzo De Luca, governor of Italy’s Campania region, tweeted on May 8. “It is a turning point message that reaches the whole world. Capri and Procida are COVID-free.”
In an interview with CNN, Capri Mayor Marino Lembo reiterated De Luca’s comments, saying, “It is a very strong message that we send to the whole world — you can come here in total safety.”
Before the pandemic, Capri regularly welcomed over 2 million tourists per year, including many celebrities. However, the global health crisis, and the travel restrictions that came with it, slashed tourism by approximately 70% in 2020.
But things are improving as summer approaches. At the end of April, outdoor dining resumed at the island’s restaurants, and indoor dining is expected to resume in June.
Adding to the good news, Italy recently announced that it plans to reopen its borders to international visitors later in May.
Due to European Union travel restrictions, U.S. tourists will likely have to wait a bit longer to gain entry to the region. However, the E.U. has said it plans to allow fully vaccinated Americans to visit member countries this summer.
“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, told The New York Times. “This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.”
The U.S. government will also have to ease travel restrictions to Italy before Americans can book a summer holiday in Capri. The Department of State currently lists Italy as a “Level 4” travel risk, meaning that all travelers should avoid nonessential travel to the country.
Tourism from the U.S. will be critical to Capri’s economic recovery, as Americans made up a large percentage of the island’s visitors prior to the pandemic.