Can I leave Italy under the new coronavirus travel restrictions?

Many people are uncertain whether they can leave Italy now the government has imposed tight new travel restrictions. The Local answers some FAQs.

Can I leave Italy under the new coronavirus travel restrictions?
Travellers at Termini train station in Rome. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Can I return home from Italy?

Essentially, anyone who wants to leave Italy can do so.

Italian authorities are not forcing everyone to stay exactly where they are. The new decree only prevents people travelling for non-essential reasons.

Returning home, including to another country, is considered an essential reason. 

READ ALSO: 'Stay at home': What are Italy's coronavirus quarantine rules?

But if even if you live in Italy, you should be allowed to leave.

Other countries are taking action however which may make it harder. Austria,  Slovenia and Switzerland have imposed border restrictions while Donald Trump has introduced a Europe travel ban which includes Italy.

US nationals and permanent residents in the US area allowed to return home but most other foreign nationals won't be allowed to board planes to the US.

According to the UK government, “British nationals remain able to depart Italy without restriction. Airports remain open throughout Italy. 

“However, airline schedules are subject to change and some flights are being cancelled. Travellers are advised to check flight details with airlines.”

British Airways, for example, has cancelled most direct flights between the UK and Italy – though passengers have the option to rebook onto flights connecting in Switzerland. Several other airlines are also operating a reduced service.

Check with whichever company you're travelling with before setting out: you should be able to arrange a refund or rebooking.

Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

Air and rail passengers may be subject to medical checks before travelling, so if you have symptoms of fever, difficulty breathing, coughing or sneezing be prepared to be examined.

If health professionals deem necessary, you may be denied boarding.

What documents do I need to travel?

Anyone who wishes to travel is now required to fill out a standardized form justifying their reasons and submit it to authorities at train stations and airports, as well as at major roads between cities.

You'll need to give your name, address, telephone number and details of where you're travelling from, to and by which means. You'll also have to state your reason for travelling: “I'm returning home” is one of the examples listed.

You can download the form here (in Italian). 

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Italian authorities are relying on people to declare their reason for travel honestly and accurately, but they can check out your story. It's a good idea to have your plane or train ticket and your passport ready for inspection.

What about when I get home?

Be aware that you may be required to isolate yourself temporarily if you enter another country from Italy. 

The US is recommending anyone who has been to Italy to self-isolate for 14 days after returning to the US, and anyone with flu-like symptoms to call ahead before seeking medical help.

The UK government is now asking anyone who has returned from anywhere in Italy to stay indoors and avoid contact with others, even if they do not have symptoms.

Several other countries are also warning passengers returning from Italy they could face quarantine upon arrival. 

Check the latest travel advice from your government to prepare for any special arrangements you may need to make.


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US tourist fined €500 for driving on Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge

Italian police fined a Californian man after he drove a rented Fiat Panda across Florence’s iconic - and pedestrianised - Ponte Vecchio on Thursday.

US tourist fined €500 for driving on Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge

The 34-year-old man drove onto the bridge in the early afternoon of Thursday, January 26th, but was quickly stopped by police.

He reportedly told officers that he was looking for parking and wasn’t aware he was on the Ponte Vecchio, one of Florence’s most recognisable landmarks.

Completed in 1345, the bridge today is famously a narrow, cobbled walkway lined with small shops selling jewellery and souvenirs.

READ ALSO: US tourist charged with public indecency after posing naked at Amalfi Cathedral

The visitor, from California, had been planning on touring Florence by car (a rented Fiat Panda, to be exact). 

But whether he was trying to put one over local police or he just wasn’t aware of local traffic rules, his early-afternoon ride cost him dearly as he later received a total 500-euro fine for entering a pedestrian-only area and driving without an international driving permit. 

READ ALSO: ‘Americans can pay’: Italian minister says famous sites should hike entry fees

Florence recently announced a restoration project worth €2 million for the bridge – which was the only one in the city left standing after World War II.

Thursday’s incident was not the first time a tourist was caught driving across the Ponte Vecchio. 

In 2019, a 79-year-old German tourist drove onto the bridge in a rented Lamborghini sports car. After being stopped by local police, the man reportedly told officers he was “lost”.