Sicily, heaven on earth, is offering to pay for half of your flights and a third of your hotel costs if you visit the Italian island, post-pandemic. Well then.

Italy has been on strict lockdown since March 10 after COVID-19 devastated the nation. But earlier this week, the country’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced Italy will begin to slowly ease its laws as it enters what he called “phase two” of lockdown. Parks and public gardens will reopen from May 4, but face masks will be mandatory and social distancing is a huge must. Museums, galleries, libraries, and retailers will reopen on May 18, followed by bars, restaurants, and hairdressers from June 1. Conte said phase two is about “co-existing with the virus”.

“We all want the country to restart,” he said. “However, the only way to live with the virus in this phase is to not fall ill – and social distancing.”

As first reported by The Times, Sicily will cover a portion of your expenses in a bid to welcome tourists back to the island post-pandemic. Like much of Italy, Sicily is tied to tourism and has reportedly lost more than €1 billion (AUD$1.7 billion) in tourism dollars. The plan will cost the island about €50 million, which it will hopefully make back. The Evening Standard reports that keen travellers will need to access the Visit Sicily website once international travel is, well, encouraged again. Vouchers will become available at the appropriate time, depending on the status of the pandemic. The island will also sling free tickets to its museums and archaeological sites.

Under phase two, Italians will be able to travel within regions to visit family, but movement between regions is still a no-no unless for essential purposes like work, health, or emergencies. It’s anybody’s guess when things will start to be normal again, but when they do, get planning.

Image: Getty Images / Federico Scotto