Italy Suspends Visa Issuance and All Air Traffic From China
Italy becomes the third country in the European Union to stop receiving and processing applications in China, amid the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
The Czech Republic and Greece were the first countries part of the EU and the Schengen Area to undertake this measure, following a report of SchengenVisaInfo.com saying all EU countries would make such moves.
The decision of the Italian government was made public by the Italian Embassy in Beijing, through their official website.
“Following the spread of the ‘new coronavirus’ 2019-nCoV, originating from the city of Wuhan, in the Chinese province of Hubei, and due to the measures implemented by local authorities to contain the risk of contagion, all Italian Visa Centers in the Republic Chinese People’s will remain closed until February 9, 2020,” a statement of the Embassy reads.
It also points out the visa centers will reopen on Monday, February 10, unless otherwise communicated, as the re-opening of the centers may change, subject to further notifications from central, provincial and city authorities.
The statement announced that the Embassy premises will be open for access only by appointment for cases of proven urgency.
In addition, the Italian authorities have decided to expand a decision of January 23, to suspend flights to the city of Wuhan, now calling-off all flights to mainland China, until a further notice.
Italian Minister of Health Roberto Speranza has issued a ‘decree closing air traffic to and from China’, in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading in Italy.
“From 10:00 am Beijing local time on January 23, 2020, local authorities have suspended air connections from Wuhan city. Following the identification of two cases of coronaviruses in the country, the Italian authorities, on January 30, 2020, announced the suspension of air traffic to / from China,” a document published by the Embassy of Italy in China reads.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the two first confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Italy throughout a press conference with Health Minister Roberto Speranza, early on Friday.
Three EU countries suspending visa issuance to Chinese citizens is a confirmation of Wednesday’s report of SchengenVisaInfo.com that the European Union is preparing to tighten entry conditions for Chinese nationals and those who have traveled to China in recent months, in a bid to prevent the situation getting out of control.
“The block has already decided to activate the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, but if the virus keeps spreading at the current tempo, the EU may introduce entry restrictions by the end of the week to Chinese nationals and recent visitors to mainland China,” the source had confirmed.
According to this source, the suspension of visa issuance for the nationals of a few countries in addition to China is also an option if the situation does not improve for the better.