As tourism slowly begins to return to pre-pandemic numbers, the city of Florence, Italy, has decided to implement a new rule in an attempt to limit crowd size and prevent new COVID-19 cases.
Florence mayor Dario Nardella signed an ordinance impacting six of the city’s most popular tourist destinations, prohibiting late-night wandering. This precaution, while an attempt to prevent another spike of cases in Italy, may also dampen the country’s only recently revived tourism industry.
Impacted locations include Santo Spirito, Piazza Strozzi, Santa Croce, and Piazza S.S. Annunziata, all common nightlife destinations, as tourists tend to gather on the steps of the famous churches and palaces in the area. Violators will now be fined between $475 to $1,185 if they decide to take a nighttime stroll through these destinations. The ban is set to remain in place until the end of the pandemic.
The new ordinance declares these popular Florence locations off-limits on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., unless a visitor is actively using a bar or restaurant in the area. The goal is not to completely ban the usage of the area, but rather to limit tourists’ aimless wandering.
However, the ordinance has not been celebrated by many Florence locals, who feel the restrictions are an unreasonable roadblock for the city’s newly revived tourism industry.
Veronica Grechi, the owner of a Florence B&B, explained to CNN that she believes limiting access is the wrong move.
“The squares are public — if people are behaving badly you need to make them go away,” Grechi said. “You don’t say that you can only access these places with a receipt from a bar; it’s saying you can only get access if you pay.”
As one of the earliest hard-hit countries at the start of the pandemic in early 2020, Italy’s tourism took a major hit, even before its first lockdown in early March. The country reportedly lost $142 billion in 2020 alone, and 337,000 workers in the travel and tourism industries lost their jobs.
After another late 2020 spike in cases, Italy has only recently started to see a revival in its tourism. Their case numbers have continued to decrease every week, offering hope for the future of the country’s tourism. Locals hope that the walking ban in Florence will not deter the growth of the industry.