Coronavirus Travel Update
What is it like to travel to Tuscany?
Italy opened its borders on 3 June 2020 after being in lockdown since the beginning of March.
We've had lots of questions about rules concerning travel and staying at Casa Leana as Europe gradually comes out of lockdown. We have tried to answer them below. However if there is something we haven't covered please let us know.
A note of caution and a disclaimer: As the rules are updated so frequently at this time, please do not take these as a given and remember to clarify, particularly if something is of particular importance (the websites of the UK Government https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus and the World Health Organisation https://www.who.int/countries/gbr/en/ are both very helpful). We have used published National Guidelines as well as legal advice to write these rules but they may have changed by the time you travel.
When can I travel to Italy again?
From the 3 June 2020 Italy opened up internal travel between regions as well as its external borders. There is no requirement to self-isolate for 14 days for travellers from all EU states and, crucially, the UK.
Travel is allowed from the following countries: all EU Member States (in addition to Italy, the following are EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the Czech Republic); Schengen Area Countries (the non-EU States that are members of the Schengen Agreement are: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland); United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; Andorra, Principality of Monaco; Republic of San Marino and Vatican City State.
The only exception is in the case of previous travel to a different country, for example if you were flying to Italy from London but had returned from the US less than 14 days previously.
Travel from any country other than those listed above is still restricted. For more information see the Italian Foreign Ministry Travel page.
Why are they taking my temperature?
Body temperature can be taken before you are allowed access to flights, car rentals, villas and hotels. Entrance will be refused to those with a temperature over 37.5. Face masks must be worn in public and social distancing of at least a metre is enforced.
What about the UK rules on quarantine upon return?
From 4 July 2020, Italy is exempt from the FCO advice against all non-essential international travel and no quarantine is required upon your return to the UK. This is based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
Is flying safe?
EasyJet is just one example and as, with all airlines, they are keen to get their planes in the air again. You can read about the changes they're implementing here: Easy Jet Covid-19 Flying Procedures - the headlines are: The planes are deep-cleaned every 24 hours, passengers must wear face-masks and use hand-sanitiser regularly, there is no inflight service and their air-filtering service is the same as those used in hospitals.
Easyjet say: "Our aircraft are already fitted with HEPA filters, the same as those used in hospitals, replacing cabin air every three to four minutes. The cabin is thoroughly disinfected daily, which provides surface protection from viruses that lasts for at least 24 hours."
Obviously other airlines exist, and we have no affiliation with Easyjet, but it's a very popular airline for Pisa and they've been very good at providing information.
How can I drive down?
Driving down can be an attractive option and driving through France is perfectly fine.
Is it safe to hire a car?
Many of our previous customers have used Europcar so we looked to them to see how they're dealing with the new situation. You can see the details on this page: https://www.europcar.co.uk/customer-information
The main guidelines are an attention to social distancing during pick up and drop off and a strict cleaning procedure followed by the car being locked, stickered and the keys being cleaned and placed in an envelope.
So hiring a car is a safe option.
How many people may travel together in a car?
At the moment the distancing rules still apply when travelling by car. In practical terms this means that, unless you all live together, no more than 3 people could travel in a normal sedan: the driver alone ahead, and two passengers in the rear seats at opposite sides. Masks must be worn inside the car.
If you normally share living quarters - the obvious example might be parents and 2 children, but any group that live together normally, you can use a car customarily.
But in the case of, for example, 10 friends going on holiday together, you could not hire 2 cars and all pile in - you would need to hire 4.
These rules are being reviewed regularly so we will monitor the situation.
Who can rent a villa?
We recently had an interesting question from a client regarding who can stay in a villa together. Obviously a family that has been in the same household can do so, but what about two families who decide to holiday together? Or a group of friends?
The official guidance states: "Interpersonal distancing does not apply to members of the same family or cohabiting group nor to people staying in the same room nor to people not covered by current interpersonal distancing regulations with this latter being the personal responsibility of those involved."
So it seems that if you rent a large villa as a group it is up to you to make the decision regarding distancing. I would assume that if you have decided to holiday together than you have measured the risks and decided they are acceptable. It may be, for example, that you've all been working from home and self-isolating strictly so feel that you're a low-risk group.
Arriving at Casa Leana
Staying in our self-catering villa is a great choice compared to hotels as most of the regulations revolve around keeping shared spaces sanitised - with no shared spaces the key points to address with a private villa rental are accurate cleaning and sanitising before your arrival and social distancing when welcoming you.
As with car rental procedures, the house will be locked after cleaning (new for 2020, we have purchased an *antiviral disinfectant fogging machine) and the keys sanitised. We will meet you in our local town of Anghiari (Piazza Baldaccio) and guide you to Casa Leana. Once we reach Casa Leana, due to Covid 19, rather than showing you around the property and gardens personally we will provide video instructions prior to your arrival. Two sets of property keys will be sanitised and left outside the property for when you arrive rather than handed to you.
Casa Leana is ready to welcome you to Tuscany with the new rules in place.
Restaurants have re-opened and people have been delighted to finally be able to go out to eat again. The experience when eating outside will be very similar to what we're used to and may even be more pleasant as there has to plenty of room between tables.
What's changed: Restaurants will prefer bookings over drop-ins and they will have to keep your details for at least 14 days.
Dining inside is allowed, but masks must be used - so you really will want to find restaurants with outside dining space of which there are plenty in our local area.
When dining outside, the diners will need to leave space for the waiters to approach without encroaching on the one-metre distance rule.
Contactless payment methods are preferred and all tills, counters, etc will have perspex barriers to shield the restaurant and cafe workers from the clients.
Eating at Casa Leana is always a good option, especially when you have so many outdoor spaces to choose from.
We also provide a pre-arranged food shop delivery service so that all your groceries are waiting for you upon your arrival - no need for a supermarket visit.
Some museums are open again - masks must be worn at all times, alcohol gel must be available for regular hand-cleaning, numbers will be limited and booking will be necessary.
Audio guides must be disinfected between each use so we can expect the museums to encourage visitors to use their own devices, perhaps with a museum app to hear the guided tour.
Timings vary and will be shorter. From a look around the internet, the Pinacoteca in Siena appears to still be closed, while the Uffizi in Florence is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 14:00 to 18:30 and on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 to 18:30
The Museo dell'Opera in Siena is open every day from 10:30 to 18:00, while the Cathedral is open from Monday to Saturday from 10:30 to 18:00 and on Sunday from 13:30 to 18:00. Entrance is free until the end of July.
The picture on Travel Insurance is emerging at the moment. The advice from ABI (The Association of British Insurers) can be roughly condensed as:
1.If you travel against government advice you invalidate your insurance (i.e. you come to Italy when the government is advising against it).
2.If you don't go on holiday out of anxiety but there is no official advice against it this is classed as ‘disinclination to travel’ and your insurance won't cover you.
But if there is an official ban against travel you should be covered and they will re-imburse you.
It's worth remembering that most people recover from the illness (as described by WHO above) and it is far less deadly than SARS. But older patients, and those with respiratory difficulties (our parents and our children with asthma, for example) are at risk - so the sooner the UK and the US take action, the better.
The World Health Organisation mytbusters page is a good place to start. After which you should remember the precautions you can take, wherever you are:
1. Wash your hands in soap and water often - or use gel sanitiser
2. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (elbow) when you cough or sneeze
3. Put used tissues in the bin immediately
4. Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
Covid 19 policy
Learn more about what we are doing to be proactive during this Coronavirus health crisis
At Casa Leana, we have a real passion for travel and opening a world of exciting adventures and travel experiences for you, your family and your friends.
Your health, welfare and safety are paramount when you stay at Casa Leana. Noting that coronavirus dominates the news, we wanted to reach out and let you know we have implemented increased cleaning protocols and processes.
We are closely monitoring the guidance of the World Health Organisation, the Robert-Koch-Institute, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ministry of Italian Health regarding the spread of the virus. Our focus is to ensure we meet all the future needs of our guests while doing our part to keep you and our community safe.
We want you to know that your health and safety remains our priority during this pandemic.
Our commitment to hygiene and safety
We inform guests about hygiene regulations at check in
We regularly update our employees on hygiene measures
We ask all guests to avoid direct contact with us and keep a safe distance
Our home is regularly cleaned and disinfected according to tested hygiene regulations. We will be using an *antiviral disinfectant fogging machine between changeovers, the antivirus is effective against a range of pathogenic viruses including Coronavirus and SARS-Cov-2. It uses a non-bleach formula which cleans and disinfects the area which the mist touches, the mist floats in the air long enough to get to areas that were previously difficult to reach. This is the same process that many airlines have started to use to sanitise the aircraft as part of their cleaning programme. Along with this the techniques for cleaning our house after each stay have been further intensified. Special attention is paid to areas with high points of contact, such as keys, door handles, locks and bolts, light switches, desk surfaces, tv remote controls and handles of bathroom fittings
We will be temporarily removing some "non essential" tactile items to reduce the spread of any viral infection and to streamline our cleaning procedures, this includes: surplus crockery, glasses and some soft furnishings.
Disinfectant and cleaning products suitable for viruses are provided at Casa Leana
Guests with symptoms of illness are asked to stay inside the property and call a doctor. Leigh and Di will assist you if required.
We want to assure you that during this time, private villa holidays remain one of the safest ways to travel, reducing outside exposure with additional guests and ensuring the utmost in cleanliness and hygiene standards.
Should you choose to visit Casa Leana, our villa is exclusively yours for the duration of your stay, offering a private haven for you and your group.