Covid-19 in Venice: how Venice was one of the first cities being struck by the pandemic but quickly fought back

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    Covid-19 in Venice

    We can all agree that covid-19 is disrupting countries, lives, and industries around the world.

    We can confirm that covid-19 in Venice was just as devastating. And there is more…

    Tourism is one of the sectors that is expected to suffer long-term consequences the most. Some believe that tourism might never be the same again.

    This also means that life in Venice, a city whose economy relies overwhelmingly on tourism, might never be the same again.

    There are several questions that future visitors might want an answer to, to better understand if it’s safe to visit Venice and what to expect when visiting.

    In this article, we try and answer all your questions.

    How many covid cases did Venice have in the first months of the pandemic?

    By mid-June2020, the entire province of Venice, which counts roughly 900.000 inhabitants, had a total number of 2615 people who tested positive to COVID-19.

    How many covid cases did Venice have overall?

    As of January 26, 2022, there have been over 116.000 covid-19 infections in a population of 900.000 inhabitants which includes Venice, the islands of the Venetian Lagoon, and an extensive area on the mainland.

    Over 1.800 people died since the pandemic started at the end of February 2020.

    At the moment of writing, 90% of the Venetian population over 11 years old is fully vaccinated.

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    Is it safe to visit Venice while covid-19 is still among us?

    There are a number of reasons that make it safe to visit Venice.

    Social distancing is easy in Venice

    We can imagine you thinking “Seriously? How can the most overcrowded city also allow for social distancing?”

    You did, right?

    Well, there are two things you should keep in mind:

    1. Fewer people are expected to be travelling until 2023. This means that fewer people will be present in Venice until then. In other words, it is possible to visit the city with far fewer people around. Indeed, since tourists represent the overwhelming majority of the people walking around the city, their absence means that there is far more space than before in Venice. This is true not only for the public spaces but also for bars, restaurants, shops and museums: inside them you will have plenty of room for yourself
    2. In Venice, 90% of the population over 11 years old is fully vaccinated.
    3. Venice is a pedestrian city that can be crossed entirely by foot. This allows you to avoid public transportation at all times unless you need to cross a canal to reach the islands of Giudecca, Murano, Burano or Torcello. As we know, transmission is more likely in closed spaces than in the open, making Venice a great choice!

    The pedestrian nature of Venice makes it safe for visitors and a great destination as soon as you will feel confident travelling again.

    The only problem for visiting might be related to where You live.

    Italy has enforced a strict lockdown that obliged people to stay home and workplaces to be shut down for months and has now clearly also set strict rules for travellers.

    To visit Italy, all travellers must prove that:

    a) They received a second dose of vaccine against covid-19 less than 6 months before the date of their travel


    b) Have received a covid-19 booster shot

    What if I get sick in Venice?

    While we really hope no one of our readers will ever need to be hospitalized, we are happy and proud to answer this question.

    Firstly, you should know that the Veneto region has one of the highest tests per person ratio in the world, and today has fewer than 1 new infection per million inhabitants!

    But there is more:

    In Italy, everyone who needs treatment does receive treatment, free of charge.

    Everyone, free of charge.

    That applies to anything, not just to coronavirus, of course.

    If, for any reason, you should feel sick or injure yourself in Venice, you can count on being treated by one of the best healthcare systems in the world, free of charge.

    And yes, even the hospital in Venice is beautiful (building on the right in the photo below)

    A brief history of covid-19 in Venice and the longer-term impact on the city

    Science and brilliant scientists in Veneto:

    The Veneto Region administration and its Governor Luca Zaia decided to give full trust and follow the lead of Mircobiology Professor Andrea Crisanti and its 3 crucial intuitions to fight the pandemic. Thanks to this approach, Veneto managed to quickly getting the epidemic under control and save thousands of lives, despite being one of the first regions to be struck by the virus.

    The 3 intuitions that saved the Veneto:
    Firstly, when the first news on the spreading of a new virus were made public, Crisanti highlighted the importance of creating reagents in-house to be able to run tests at any time and in any context. The Veneto Region started producing its own reagents already on the the 20th of January.

    Secondly, contrary to WHO guidelines which recommended screening only people with severe breathing difficulties, in fact, Crisanti recommended mass testing.
    And for a good reason:
    When the first cases of covid-19 occurred in Italy, one of the first hotbeds in the country was Vò, a small town of 3.000 people in Veneto. Crisanti recommended locking down the small town and testing all its inhabitants. The results were telling: about 70% of people who were positive to covid-19 were asymptomatic or quasi-symptomatic.
    This freshly acquired data proved to be crucial for taking an educated and scientific next step: mass testing in order to find positive yet asymptomatic people and prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus further.

    Thirdly, adapting a one-of-a-kind acoustic liquid dispenser to run covid-19 tests, greatly increasing the number of tests that could be performed daily. A former Molecular Parasitology Professor at Imperial College London, Andrea Crisanti had used an innovative and extremely efficient machine that made use of sound energy transferring biochemical reagents and genomic samples, “Echo 525”. Crisanti realized that the purpose of this machine could be changed to the current needs: running several thousands covid-19 tests per day!

    What impact did Coronavirus have on Venice?

    As we mentioned before, when it comes to the number of victims, the impact of the virus in Venice has not been devastating.

    However, if we look at the economic impact, Venice is probably one of the worst hit cities worldwide.

    How come?

    Because the pressure of mass tourism has lead to an increasing cost of living and rests, and has forced an overwhelming majority of businesses to rely in great part on tourists to cover their growing costs. For the same reason, almost every business that has closed in the past decade in Venice has been replaced by either a souvenir shop, a bar/restaurant, or a gelateria (gelato shop).
    While bar, restaurants and gelato shops also serve locals, of course, their number is hugely disproportionate in comparison to the number of residents. Those activities that managed to survive, despite ever growing costs, could do so only due to the presence of tourists.

    Even taxis nor the public water transportation system can count on residents to keep running. On the one side, while taxis are defined as “public service”, their prices ranging from 80 to 110 euros have always kept residents away. On the other side, the public transportation system could provide locals with many rides at a low price because a significant part of the cost was covered by the many tourists and their (more expensive) tickets.

    You may be wondering if Venice doesn’t have other kinds of businesses, which offer work opportunities to the locals.
    Unfortunately, the cost of properties, the lack of an entrepreneurial ecosystem beyond hospitality, and the time required to reach other cities have kept other types of businesses away.

    Today, therefore, most businesses have lost the overwhelming majority of their customers and do not know if and how they will be able to pay their high cost of doing business and survive.

    So, what has changed in Venice after the coronavirus peak?

    To visitors’ eyes, Venice looks more beautiful, quiet, and relaxing than ever before.

    But after the first wave of coronavirus, Venice is more in peril than ever.

    Already before the outbreak, in fact, Venice had a “tourism problem”, given by day-trippers greatly outnumbering overnight visitors.

    Why is this a problem?

    Because, generally speaking, day-trippers contribute to the economic costs of the city (i.e: cleaning of the city, maintenance, etc.) without contributing enough to the local economy.

    Clearly, day-trippers do not stay in hotels or apartments. Most, however, also do not eat in restaurants nor do they shop for quality crafts at local artisans and family shops. On the contrary, the economic contribution of overnight visitors, who tend to also eat in restaurants and visit local shops, is vital for the survival of the city.

    Today (11th of June), this problem is more severe than ever: for over 3 months, Venice has had exclusively day-trippers, the vast majority of which comes on either on Saturday or on Sunday.

    Consequently, Venice is entirely empty during the week and the economic contribution of visitors on weekends to local businesses is marginal, at best, on weekends.

    To summarize, today Venice looks like a dream to visitors, more beautiful than ever before. But to Venetians, it feels like their jobs and lives are falling apart. And if things don’t improve, Venice will lose its inhabitants and authenticity and become a theme park.

    Venice is still resisting, but the clock is ticking.

    Is the situation in Venice after coronavirus really that bad?

    Yes, it is.

    Locals are hard workers.

    But when the cost of doing business is very high, work has disappeared, and the Italian State (for a number of reasons that must be attributed to decades of bad politics) is not in the condition to support small businesses as much as other EU countries have been able to do, things get harder every day.

    In Venice, where an overwhelming majority of businesses depend on tourism, an overwhelming majority of people is obviously very scared. Some local business owners already had to give up on their dreams and years of work.

    What can i do to support the local population in Venice?

    There are a number of ways to give economic support to the local population in Venice, both from home and when in Venice:

      • When visiting Venice use our listings of the best places where to eat, drink, and shop in Venice! All places, carefully selected by us, offer you great products and service and are locally owned. It’s a win-win: you are offered great quality and you support local life!
      • To dive even deeper in the local life and culture, make sure book an experience with a local in Venice! Do you want to walk off the beaten path? How about learning to row? Or maybe decorating a Venetian Mask? Although a night photography tour sounds great too, right? You get to discover Venice beyond its beauty and architecture, and at the same time you support locals!
      • Finally, you can also shop online for authentic handmade Venetian crafts! Every season, we carefully select wonderful, durable and sustainable crafts handmade in Venice that you can get delivered straight to your home. This way, you can support local businesses even from far away!

      All these actions you can take support DIRECTLY local businesses.

      But wait a minute: Is it safe to go on tours in Venice after coronavirus?

      Yes, it is!

      Firstly, because Venice has been touched only marginally by the epidemic, and, secondly, it has been covid-free for weeks now.

      And if you book a tour on Venezia Autentica, it’s even safer as all tours are private: this ensures you have fewer contacts with other people than you would in a group tour.

    Here ends our article on covid-19 in Venice. We hope it was informative and it provided you with the information you were looking for.

    And if you now wish to visit, make sure to check these resources to best plan your trip:

    I'm visiting Venice. Why should I follow your recommendations?

    The way you visit Venice has an impact both on the quality of your experience and on Venice itself.  Chilling, exploring, shopping, eating and drinking where the locals do, can make a huge impact both on the memories you bring home and on the local economy and community.

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