June 6, 2020 / 11:53 AM / a month ago

Italy hopes EU nations will open borders to Italians from June 15

FILE PHOTO: Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and his German counterpart Heiko Maas (not pictured) attend a news conference after a meeting to discuss the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Berlin, Germany, June 5, 2020. Michael Kappeler/Pool via REUTERS

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Italy hopes other EU countries will reopen their borders to Italian citizens on June 15, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Saturday, as coronavirus travel restrictions across Europe are gradually eased.

Italy - which has the world’s fourth-highest COVID-19 death toll after the United States, Britain and Brazil - opened its doors to other EU citizens on June 3, but most European countries are still largely off-limits for Italian nationals.

“June 15 is an important date for many of our citizens,” Di Maio told a news conference during a visit to neighbouring Slovenia.

Slovenian Foreign Minister Anze Logar told the same news conference: “Health conditions in Italy are improving fast ... I’m looking optimistically towards June 15.”

Di Maio said Germany and Switzerland have also indicated that they could open their borders to Italians from that date.

He said he hoped border openings would apply to people from all parts of Italy, including those areas worst-affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Italy has so far reported about 234,500 coronavirus cases and 33,770 deaths.

Slovenia, which last month declared an end to its coronavirus epidemic, has reported 1,479 coronavirus cases and 109 deaths.

In recent weeks, it has allowed the entry of people from neighbouring Croatia, Hungary and Austria.

Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Helen Popper

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