Britons have been warned against all but essential travel to the whole of Italy as the country was placed in total lockdown in the fight against coronavirus.

The extension of travel restrictions and a ban on public gatherings in Italy are in place until at least April 3 – the start of UK school Easter holidays.

The Italian government said only those with a valid work or family reason that cannot be postponed will be allowed to travel.

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Passengers departing on flights will have to justify themselves, as will all those who arrive by aircraft.

Controls at train stations to check the temperatures of passengers have been introduced.

Cruise ships are also forbidden to dock at various ports in the country and ski resorts have been shut.

Abta: ‘Contact travel provider’

An Abta spokesperson said: “British nationals remain able to depart Italy without restriction and airports remain open throughout Italy.

“However, airline schedules are subject to change and some flights are being cancelled.

“Customers currently in Italy should contact their travel provider to discuss their options and follow the instructions of local authorities and local public health advice.

“Customers who are imminently due to travel on package holidays which include Italy should be offered alternative arrangements by their travel provider.

“If no suitable alternatives are available, package holiday customers should be offered a full refund.

“Customers who have booked their flights and accommodation directly should speak to their airline and accommodation provider to discuss their options. They should also check their travel insurance to see if this will cover any additional costs.

“Customers with an existing package holiday booked, and those considering making plans, can have confidence that there are protections in place for package holidays should the travel advice to their destination change.”

Foreign Office revises Italy advice

The Foreign Office said in revised travel advice issued last night: “British nationals remain able to depart Italy without restriction.

“Airports remain open throughout Italy. However, airline schedules are subject to change and some flights are being cancelled.

“Travellers are advised to check flight details with airlines.

“Additional restrictions include the closure of museums, cultural institutions and the suspension of all public gatherings and sporting events. Religious ceremonies and funerals are suspended.

“Ski facilities are closed. Childcare facilities, schools and universities are closed until 3 April.

“Restaurants and bars remain open with restricted hours and reduced seating.”

British Airways cancels Italy flights

British Airways as cancelled all flights to Italy from Heathrow and Gatwick.

Alitalia is waiving fees for travellers who have bought tickets outside Italy for travel until April 3 so they can rebook without penalty to fly no later than June 30.

Norwegian Air has suspended all flights to and from Italy.

Wizz Air has suspended flights from all departure points to Italy and will suspend flights to Tel Aviv and Eilat from March 12.

Flights from Luton to Bari and Catania in Italy will be suspended until April 3.

Ryanair further cut the number of flights it operates to Italy and suspended all domestic routes in the country.

The restrictions were imposed the day that the European Tourism Association (Etoa) called for an urgent response from local and national governments in Italy to assist cultural tourism.

Operators who have pre-paid for tickets at public museums and attractions are suffering “serious financial loss at a time of year when cashflow is perilous”.

Etoa called for attractions to be allowed to offer refunds and credit notes with continued delay putting jobs at risk.

Chief executive Tom Jenkins said: “The tourism industry is one of Europe’s best job generators; quick to add employment to the economy after a crisis.

“Cultural attractions and their host cities depend on visitor revenues and need to work with their industry partners to plan for recovery.

“Operators are facing unprecedented short-term financial harm: it is essential that we ensure we have the capacity to support recovery when demand returns.

“Measures introduced to limit coach access are often controversial – in current circumstances they are manifestly self-defeating.

“Local and national government must act now to suspend them.”