ROME, May 17 (Xinhua) -- The Italian government will allow unrestricted travel within the country as well as between Italy and fellow Schengen countries starting June 3.

The decree was approved by the Council of Ministers during its Friday session that stretched into the early hours of Saturday.

The resumption of travel will come more than 12 weeks after Italy closed its borders to non-essential travel as part of Europe’s first national COVID-19 lockdown.

As the country continues to see a decline in the number of new infections and fatalities, the government has been gradually easing restrictions.

The Schengen Area comprises 26 European countries that allow passport-free travel between them. It is made up of 22 of 27 European Union states plus four countries in the European Free Trade Association that are not part of the European Union. Every country that directly borders Italy is either a member of the Schengen-area or a de facto member of the group.

The decree stated that the June 3 benchmark as well as Monday's deadline that will allow unrestricted travel within Italian regions could be pulled back if data on the spread of the coronavirus in Italy worsens enough.

The decree did not say what health and safety measures would be put in effect for travelers who come to Italy after June 3, and while those arriving in Italy will be required to self-isolate on arrival, it does not change whatever quarantine rules might be in place for travelers going to other countries from Italy.

Media reports said the June 3 date was selected to exclude the long holiday weekend that ends with Italy's national holiday Republic Day on June 2, a Tuesday.