Italy to Run “COVID-free” Trains on Rome-Milan Route

Rome, March 8 (AFP/APP): Italy’s state-run railways will operate “Covid-free” high-speed trains on the Rome-Milan route starting next month, its chief executive said Monday. Gianfranco Battisti hailed the initiative — a European first, according to his company — as a way of reviving travel after more than a year of coronavirus curbs.

“We will introduce a Covid-free train in early April … initially between Rome and Milan,” Battisti said during an event at Rome’s main train station. All staff and passengers will be tested for coronavirus before boarding “with the help of the Red Cross”, he said.

After the Rome-Milan route, “we will adopt this solution especially for tourist destinations” like Venice, Florence and Naples, he added. Italian airline Alitalia had a similar idea last year, launching Covid-tested flights on selected domestic and international flights. Before the pandemic struck, tourism accounted for 14 per cent of Italy’s economy, Prime Minister Mario Draghi told parliament last month.

Lockdowns and other coronavirus restrictions have had a devastating impact on the industry, with hotels and restaurants forced to shut for months. Overnight stays by foreign tourists were down by almost 70 per cent, year-on-year, in January-September 2020, according to official data released in December.

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