Over the past few weeks, Faith Journeys has been sharing stories from the news of the loosening of travel restrictions and openings of religious sites around the world. Today, we would like to share information that has come directly from Faith Journeys staff around the world. This edition is from people, not news sources!
Today for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic there was only one new case in Rome and 300 in all the country. The overall situation has improved a lot and we are almost back to complete normality. Borders to all European countries have been opened so people of different nations can circulate freely and tourists have started to arrive. Restaurants and shops reopened on May 18, with only a few social distancing restrictions.
Churches are open but access to masses is limited, but major Basilicas are still closed. Most of the museums have reopened, including the Vatican Museums, Academy in Florence, and the Uffizi. As a general rule online booking for museums is mandatory as well as the usage of face masks and body temperature scanning. Audio guides are not admitted, but people can get information from downloading applications on their smartphones.
Hotels have officially been reopened since May 18, but the majority of them in major cities are still closed because the tourists and pilgrims have just started to return. Although, all hotels and resorts in seaside, mountain, and lakeside locations are open.
The situation in Ireland is very positive. The coalition government, led by Leo Varadkar, previously a doctor who reregistered to assist with the pandemic has proved proactive. The Irish are naturally optimistic and the public has adhered very well to all restrictions. This cooperation has meant that the Irish government has been able to accelerate the reopening of society, and businesses. The original plan of five phases to reopening has been reduced to only four. Currently, in Phase 2, Phase 3 is 29 June and Phase 4 is 5 July.
In phase 2 (now through June 29) outdoor sites such as parks, beaches, mountain walks, heritage, and cultural sites are open. All retail outlets, with a few exceptions, are also open with social distancing required. Public transport is operating (for limited distances). Overseas travels are permitted in Ireland but are still required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Starting 29 June, restaurants and cafés will be open for both indoor and outdoor dining. Indoor cultural sites, such as museums and galleries, along with churches will be open. On July 5, hotels will also be able to start reopening. And on July 20, mass gatherings, festivals, and sporting events will be possible.
Things are continuously improving, as public life is becoming more and more normal. Face masks now only have to be worn in public transportation, medical facilities, and any situation in which the minimal distance of 1 meter cannot be observed. Schools are open again, as well as church services, hotels, restaurants, museums.
Borders are open to all the neighboring countries and travel to/from all European countries is possible again except for a few exceptions.