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UPDATE: Who is allowed to travel to Italy from outside the EU?

Europe's borders have opened up, but only to travellers from certain countries. Here's the latest on the Italian travel rules for people from outside Europe. (This article was updated on August 26th).

UPDATE: Who is allowed to travel to Italy from outside the EU?
Passengers queue for a Covid-19 test at Rome's Fiumicino airport on August 16th. Poto: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Travel within the European Union resumed in June, and since July 1st visits to Italy have been possible from some countries outside Europe – but not for everyone.

Which countries are allowed to travel to the EU?

The EU allows free travel within all 27 member states, as well as a handful of their neighbours: the non-EU members of the visa-free Schengen Zone – Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein; the microstates Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican; and the United Kingdom, which is still in the transition phase of exiting the EU.

READ ALSO: What to expect when you're flying to Italy

Outside of these countries, the EU has opened up its external borders only to places on its regularly revised 'safe' list. Residents of these countries can travel freely to the EU for any reason, including tourism.

The latest version of the list – updated on August 7th – has 10 countries on it. They are:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Georgia
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Rwanda
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Uruguay

If and when the Chinese government readmits EU visitors, China will also be added to the list.

Meanwhile four countries have been removed since the list was first issued in June: Algeria, Serbia, Macedonia and Morocco.

Countries with high Covid-19 rates such as the USA, India and Russia are not on the list. Residents of these and most other countries can only travel to the EU for essential, urgent reasons. 

What does this mean for people wishing to visit Italy?

Firstly, the travel rules are based around where you are coming from, not what passport you hold. So a non-EU citizen travelling from France, for example, would be permitted to enter Italy because there are no health restrictions on the French-Italian border.

READ ALSO: 'A costly gamble': One American's advice on trying to enter Italy via the UK

Secondly, this does not affect non-EU citizens who are permanent residents of Italy, although they will need to show proof of residency at the border.

Essential travel has been permitted throughout the lockdown and this continues, although the definition of essential travel into the EU is stricter than many countries' individual rules.

So the rules really affect tourists, second-home owners and those wishing to visit family and friends in Italy.

On September 7th. the Italian governmnt also signed off on a travel ban exemption for those in “stable” relationships – meaning people can travel from outside Europe to visit their partners even if they are not married or cohabiting. See more details in a separate article here.


Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

What is essential travel?

People who can travel into the European bloc include:

  • Citizens of an EU country;
  • Non-EU citizens who are permanent residents of an EU country and need to come home;
  • People travelling for imperative family reasons;
  • Non-EU nationals travelling to study;
  • Highly qualified third-country workers whose job is essential economically and cannot be postponed or performed abroad;
  • Healthcare workers;
  • Essential seasonal workers;
  • Frontier workers;
  • Delivery drivers and transport personnel;
  • Diplomats, humanitarian or aid workers;
  • People in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons;
  • Passengers in transit.

Find more details on the exemptions here.

Who has to quarantine?

Unlike most other EU countries, Italy opted to keep quarantine mandatory for anyone entering from outside the European bloc.

That means all long-haul travellers – including people entering from one of the countries on the EU's 'safe list' – must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

Are any countries banned from Italy?

Yes. In July Italy introduced a travel ban on certain countries with high infection rates, barring entry outright to anyone who has been there in the past 14 days – even if they just passed through. 

As of July 16th, Italy's 'risk list' included 16 countries:

  • Armenia
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Bosnia Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait
  • North Macedonia
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Oman
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Dominican Republic
  • Serbia

There is an exception, however, for EU/Schengen/UK citizens who live in Italy and need to return home.

Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

When will the rules change?

Italy extended all of its travel restrictions until at least September 7th under a new emergency decree that came into force on August 10th.

Meanwhile the EU says it will revise its list every two weeks. The list is largely based on the health situation in individual countries, so how quickly the ban on Americans and other non-EU tourists is lifted really depends on the evolution of the health situation in their own countries.

READ ALSO: 

Countries were included on the safe list if the coronavirus outbreak in the country was judged to be the same or better than that EU average. The bar was fixed at 16 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks.

For more information, check the Italian Foreign Ministry's website (in English), as well as the latest advice from the government of any countries you're travelling to or from.

Please note: The Local is not able to advise on specific cases. Contact your embassy for official guidance.

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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