Capri, a small island off the coast of Italy, has vaccinated over 80% of its 15,000 inhabitants and hopes to welcome back tourists this summer

By Eric Todisco
May 12, 2021 10:16 AM
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capri
Capri, Italy
| Credit: Getty

A small island off the coast of Italy is closing in on its goal of vaccinating its entire population and finally being "COVID-free."

Capri, located in the Gulf of Naples in Italy's Campania region, was a hotspot for tourists for decades until the COVID-19 pandemic sent the island, and Italy itself, into lockdown last year.

But now, Capri, which has around 15,000 inhabitants, is nearing the completion of its vaccination program with the goal of inoculating the full population and opening up tourism again this summer.

"It is a very strong message that we send to the whole world — you can come here in total safety," Marino Lembo, the mayor of Capri, told CNN.

According to Lembo, 80% of Capri's inhabitants has received at least the first dose. And by the end of the week, all tourism-sector workers who live off-island but regularly visit will also be vaccinated, he added.

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capri
Capri, Italy
| Credit: Getty

Vincenzo De Luca, governor of the Campania region, had confirmed while speaking to reporters on Saturday that the island was almost entirely fully vaccinated against the virus.

"We are preparing to welcome millions of tourists and to prevent them from going to Spain or Greece," said De Luca, per CNN. "It is essential not to waste time. The hotel sector must make its decisions by May, otherwise we will lose an entire tourist season."

According to CNN, Capri's tourist sector experienced a 70% decrease in turnover due to the ongoing pandemic.

But as vaccination rollout continues, the island is starting to open back up. According to Reuters, outdoor dining at Capri opened back up on April 26, and indoor dining will resume in early June.

"I can sense a positive spirit, a spirit of recovery," Paolo Federico, general manager of the Punta Tragara hotel, told Reuters. "Maybe this anxiety will not be part of our baggage anymore."

Covid vaccine
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
| Credit: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty

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Capri's reopening comes as the European Union reportedly plans to allow American tourists who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to visit the continent this summer.

The three vaccines used in the U.S. — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — have also been approved in Europe, which strengthens the likelihood of trans-Atlantic leisure travel being restored by the European Commission, the executive branch of the E.U.

As of Wednesday, Italy has reported over 4.1 million COVID-19 cases and over 123,000 deaths from the virus, per a New York Times database.

Reports state that the country has administered nearly 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Wednesday, which amounts to about 20.7% of the total population.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.