ROME (AP) — Summer vacation has become much easier for travelers heading to Europe.

Italy and Greece relaxed COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday before the peak of Europe’s summer tourist season. This shows that life is returning to normal more and more.

Greek civil aviation authorities have announced that they will lift all COVID-19 rules on international and domestic flights, except for wearing face masks during flight and at airports. Previously, air travelers had to show evidence of vaccination, a negative test, or recent recovery from the disease.

Under legislation passed by the Italian Ministry of Health, the country has abolished the health pass required to enter restaurants, cinemas, gymnasiums and other places. A green pass showing evidence of vaccination, recovery from the virus, or recent negative tests is still needed to access hospitals and elderly housing.

The obligation of some indoor masks such as in supermarkets, workplaces and stores has also ended. Masks are still needed in public transport, cinemas, all medical and long-term care facilities.

As of Sunday, visitors to Italy no longer have to fill out the EU Traveler Locator Form, a complex online challenge required at airport check-in.

“It was necessary,” said Claudio Cibitelli, who lives in Rome and was drinking morning coffee at a bar near the Trevi Fountain. Until Sunday, patrons had to wear masks to enter bars and restaurants, but could get rid of them for eating and drinking. “We have been waiting for more than two years.”

At a nearby table, Andrea Bichler, an Italian tourist from Trentino Alto Adige, sat with a friend who also had no mask.

“It’s much better,” Bichler said. “Let’s say it’s a return to life, a free life.”

Public health officials say masks are still strongly recommended for all indoor activities and private companies can still request masks.

Despite increasingly stringent restrictions, public health officials called for caution, emphasizing that the pandemic is not over yet. Italy reports 699 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, recording more than 100 deaths per day, with a total of 163,500 confirmed deaths. However, the hospital’s capacity is stable and below the critical threshold.

Given that the virus is still prevalent, “We need to continue our vaccine campaign, including boosters, and maintain behavior inspired by prudence. Indoors, crowded areas, or areas at risk of transmission. I wear a mask at, “said Dr. Giovanni Rezza. In charge of prevention of the Ministry of Health.

Italy was the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe when it recorded the first local infection on February 21, 2020. The government imposed one of the strictest blockades and production outages in the west during the first wave of the virus, maintaining stricter restrictions. Many of its neighbors in the waves that followed.

___

Francesco Sportelli contributed to this report.

___

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic