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What are the rules on travel around Italy during lockdown phase two?

Italy has begun relaxing some of its strict lockdown rules, but most restrictions on travel - both international and domestic - remain in place. Here's what you need to know.

What are the rules on travel around Italy during lockdown phase two?
A sign on a seat on public transport reads "sitting forbidden". Photo: AFP

As Italy moves into fase due, or “phase two” of its lockdown, there's a new set of rules now valid from May 4-17th.

Can I travel between regions?

The existing ban on travel between regions of Italy remains mostly unchanged, with one important difference: from May 4th, if you are currently staying outside your region of permanent residence you are be allowed to travel home, something that hasn't been permitted for several weeks.

Just as in phase one, you're also allowed to travel between regions for work, health reasons or other emergencies.

What counts as an urgent reason for travel?

The decree states that we can travel for “proven work needs, situations of need, or health reasons.”

For example, if you have a medical appointment or need to be somewhere for work or business, you're allowed to travel. However you'll need proof, and police may check your story.

What exactly counts as an emergency or a “situation of need” is more open to interpretation by local authorities. If  in doubt, contact your local comune or caribinieri police station.

Can I travel to a different town or comune in my region?

Yes – for certain reasons. As well as to go to work, buy necessities, and for health emergencies, under the new decree you are now allowed to travel within your own region to visit relatives.

“Travel to see relatives is considered necessary so long as the ban on gatherings is respected, interpersonal distance of at least a metre is maintained and respiratory protection [a mask or other face covering] is used,” the new decree states.

READ ALSO: Who exactly are you allowed to visit under Italy's 'phase two' lockdown rules?

Meeting up with anyone except relatives will not be considered a valid reason to travel.

You still can't travel outside your town to go shopping (unless your nearest supermarket is in another comune) or for anything other than the essential reasons listed under the decree.

There may be other allowances made depending on your region's local rules.

How far can I travel to visit family?

You can visit family members in another town, but not in another region.

Can I go on holiday or to the beach in my own region?

No. Spending the weekend in a nearby town, or planning a holiday in another part of your region, is a no-go at the moment. This won't be considered a valid reason for travel, plus tourist facilities, including hotels and restaurants, remain closed.

If you leave near a beach, you can walk on the beach alone (provided access hasn't been restricted by local authorities) but sunbathing and picnics are not allowed.

Do I still need a form when travelling in Italy?

Yes, in fact the autocertificazione ('self-certification') form will remain a requirement whenever you leave the house until at least May 18th.

The government has released an updated version of the form reflecting changes to the list of accepted reasons for going outside.

The form is only available in Italian and must be completed in Italian. Find our complete guide to the new form and how to fill it in here.

Photo: AFP

Are these rules the same across Italy?

There are extra travel restrictions in certain regions, and some places will be enforcing rules more strictly than others.

Each region has a certain amount of authority to set its own rules, so check the website of your regione or comune to find out what the rules are where you are.

When you fill in your self-certification form you'll need to state that you know the restrictions in place in both the region you're travelling from, and the region you're travelling to.

Southern regions in particular have imposed 14-day quarantine measures on anyone arriving from northern Italy, as local authorities fear an influx of people from areas with far higher rates of infection.

Can I go to, or leave, my second home?

The national government has not signed off on visiting second homes: the only property to which you're allowed to travel must be your main place of residence.

There are some regions, such as Veneto or Puglia, which have their own rules allowing people to visit a second home or smallholding in order to carry out maintenence.

READ ALSO:

If you've spent the past few weeks under lockdown at your second home, you can now leave to return your main residence.

Many people who were working or studying away from home are now returning to their families.

People who have their permanent residence in another country are allowed to return home, and have been able to do so throughout Italy's lockdown.

This allowance was mainly intended for tourists who were stuck in the country when the lockdown began, so if you do decide to travel now be prepared to explain your reasons for travelling to police.

Do I need to wear a mask?

On public transport, yes.

Face masks should also be worn on the street in cases when it is hard to maintain a safe distance from others, ISS public health institute director Silvio Brusaferro said.

But masks “must not give a false sense of security,” Brusaferro added. “It is an additional element, but personal hygiene and distancing are more important.”

The rules on face masks also vary by region. We have more details about when and where face masks should be worn here.

 

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COVID-19 RULES

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

The health ministry is reviewing its quarantine requirements as the country's Covid-19 health situation improved again this week, according to Italian media reports.

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

Italy has taken a more cautious approach to Covid in recent months than many of its European neighbours, keeping strict isolation rules in place for anyone who tests positive for the virus.

But this could be set to change in the coming days, according to media reports, as one of Italy’s deputy health ministers said the government is about to cut the isolation period for asymptomatic cases.

“Certainly in the next few days there will be a reduction in isolation for those who are positive but have no symptoms,” Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa said in a TV interview on the political talk show Agorà on Tuesday.

“We have to manage to live with the virus,” he said.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reported that the compulsory isolation period could be reduced to 48 hours for those who test positive but remain asymptomatic – provided they subsequently test negative after the day two mark.

Under Italy’s current rules, vaccinated people who test positive must stay in isolation for at least seven days, and unvaccinated people for ten days – regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

At the end of the isolation period, the patient has to take another test to exit quarantine. Those who test negative are free to leave; those who remain positive must stay in isolation until they get a negative test result, up to a maximum of 21 days in total (at which point it doesn’t matter what the test result says).

Health ministry sources indicated the new rules would cut the maximum quarantine period to 15 or even 10 days for people who continue to test positive after the initial isolation period is up, La Stampa said.

The government is believed to be reviewing the rules as the latest official data showed Covid infection and hospitalisation rates were slowing again this week, as the current wave of contagions appeared to have peaked in mid-July.

However, the national Rt number (which shows the rate of transmission) remained above the epidemic threshold, and the number of fatalities continued to rise.

The proposed changes still aren’t lenient enough for some parties. Regional authorities have been pushing for an end to quarantine altogether, even for people who are actively positive – an idea Costa appears sympathetic to.

“The next step I think is to consider the idea of even eliminating the quarantine, perhaps by wearing a mask and therefore being able to go to work,” he told reporters.

“We must review the criteria for isolation, to avoid blocking the country again”.

At least one health expert, however, was unenthusiastic about the proposal.

Dr Nino Cartabellotta, head of Italy’s evidence-based medicine group Gimbe, tweeted on Tuesday: “There are currently no epidemiological or public health reasons to abolish the isolation of Covid-19 positives”

Massimo Andreoni, professor of Infectious Diseases at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Tor Vergata University of Rome, was more ambivalent about the prospect.

The isolation requirement for asymptomatic cases should be “revised somewhat in the light of the epidemiological data”, he told reporters, but urged “a minimum of precaution, because the less the virus circulates and the fewer severe cases there are, the fewer new variants arise”.

When the question was last raised at the end of June, Health Minister Roberto Speranza was firmly against the idea of lifting quarantine requirements for people who were Covid positive.

“At the moment such a thing is not in question,” he told newspaper La Repubblica at the time. “Anyone who is infected must stay at home.”

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