The ferry the Rubattino has been hosting the 183 migrants on board since mid-April when they entered their period of quarantine | Photo: Imago
The ferry the Rubattino has been hosting the 183 migrants on board since mid-April when they entered their period of quarantine | Photo: Imago

A 14-day quarantine period has ended for the migrants aboard the Rubattino ferry moored off the coast of Palermo. The migrants, who have all tested negative for the novel coronavirus, are expected to leave the ship on Monday.

The 183 migrants, who were rescued by the Alan Kurdi and the Aita Mairi, are due to end their 14-day quarantine period on Monday. According to the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, the migrants, who have been supported by the Italian Red Cross (Croce Rossa Italiana), will be able to leave the ship shortly.

During the period of quarantine the migrants have all tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

44 unaccompanied children and 2 women

Among the migrants on board, the news agency AFP reported that there are also 44 unaccompanied minors and two women. The future of all 183 migrants is, as yet, unknown, writes AFP.

It is expected they will be shared between various EU states, some of whom signed a pact to ease the pressure on frontline arrival states like Italy, Malta, Spain and Greece, by sharing out those rescued between them. Avvenire writes that the Italian authorities are compelled to allow the migrants on to dry land, now they have tested negative, because to detain them longer on board the ferry could be construed as "unlawful detainment".

Closed ports

Following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic, both Italy and Malta announced that they would be closing their ports to ships with rescued migrants. At the moment, Malta is refusing entry to a boat carrying 57 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean last week.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that Italy would be slowly easing its lockdown measures from May 4, as the country entered what he called "phase two" of the measures taken to contain the spread of the coronavirus. He said in a tweet on May 3 that he was calling on all citizens to "not drop their guard," and reminded people that they were "still in the middle of a pandemic and any gesture of carelessness could ruin all the efforts that the Italian people have been putting in so far."

'Don't drop your guard'

In Sicily, according to the newspaper La Sicilia, the easing will come in the form of increased traffic on the roads and the possibility to order takeaways from bars which, like restaurants have been closed since the measures began in February.

It is unclear whether Italy will open up its ports again as restrictions ease. But, the authorities have made clear that anyone coming from abroad will still be expected to observe a 14-day quarantine period before re-entering society under the new relaxed measures.


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