Although the recent changes to Italian COVID-19 legislation do not affect the current spring Romers from the University of Dallas, as of March 31, Italy has ended its state of emergency and plans to lift mask and green pass requirements in the coming months.
At the beginning of the spring 2022 semester, masks were required outdoors, but that requirement was lifted on February 11. On March 31, the official state of emergency in Italy was lifted and other COVID-19 restrictions have loosened up. As of May 1, vaccination or recovery will no longer be required, and masks will no longer be mandated indoors.
Dr. Peter Hatlie, dean and director of the Rome program, said, “Because of social distancing requirements in university housing, we needed to reduce our capacity by about 30% for the entire period of the emergency. With that requirement now gone and a generally more optimistic outlook for the future, I would indeed hope that more students than before are able to participate in our programs.”
In previous semesters, the size of the Rome class was regulated because the Italian government instituted capacity restrictions. Due to the smaller class, “I’m pretty sure I’ve met every single person here, and I’ve gotten a lot closer to people that I never would have talked to if there had been more people or if I hadn’t come to Rome,” said spring Romer Luke LaCour, sophomore business major.
Mrs. Rebecca Davies, director of the Rome and summer programs, said, “Only about half of those who applied ultimately attended Rome 2021-2022,” due to their concerns about COVID-19 and the ensuing restrictions on the typical Rome semester.
“In past semesters, even a handful of COVID-19 [cases] on campus led to an automatic, immediate and unfortunately rather unpleasant lockdown of campus by local health officials with no one able to leave the premises for any reason during those long periods,” said Hatlie.
“At certain times, it was difficult if not impossible for students to travel freely in Europe, and sometimes even in Italy, owing to a variety of bans on travel across borders.”
As far as restrictions are concerned for the current Rome semester, indoor mask-wearing and proof of immunity are still required, but on the whole, things have been relatively normal.
“Thankfully, Italian and [European Union] Covid-19 restrictions have only lightly impacted the spring 2022 semester experience. Indeed both our academic trips and student independent travel have been really quite normal,” said Hatlie.
International travel on long weekends and spring break has not been difficult for the spring Romers, apart from discerning what each country’s requirements are for travel. Although noting that having to fill out multiple passenger locator forms for travel was annoying at times, LaCour said that he is still very glad that he decided to go to Rome.
“Honestly, I still enjoyed the semester a lot. [COVID-19] hasn’t really held me back from having a good time.”