Italian regions order quarantine and testing for people returning from holidays abroad

At least three Italian regions have introduced precautions for residents returning from holidays in 'high-risk' EU countries, after a spate of infections linked to travel in Greece, Spain, Croatia and Malta.

Italian regions order quarantine and testing for people returning from holidays abroad
Tourists arrive on the Spanish island of Ibiza. Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP

Residents of the southern region of Puglia will have to self-isolate for 14 days upon re-entry if they travel to Spain, Greece or Malta, according to a new regional ordinance, after a number of recent infections were traced back to returning holidaymakers.

“In the last two days we've logged numerous cases of Puglia residents who have tested positive after coming back from Greece, Malta, Spain, countries with a high viral circulation,” said regional president Michele Emiliano as he announced the new rule on Tuesday evening.

READ ALSO: Italy warns of new infections brought back by Italians holidaying abroad

The quarantine requirement will not apply to Spanish, Greek or Maltese residents visiting Puglia, nor to people who live elsewhere in Italy and pass through the region on their way home – if, for instance, they return by ferry to the large ports of Bari or Brindisi and drive to another part of the country.

But everyone arriving in Puglia, including locals, residents of other regions and foreign tourists, is required to inform regional health authorities using an online 'self-report' form (available here). The requirement applies whether you're entering Puglia from abroad or simply another region of Italy.

Temperature checks for drivers near Italy's border with Slovenia. Photo: Jure Makovec/AFP

Police will be stepping up controls to catch people who fail to fill in the form, according to Emiliano, who warned that those who shirk the obligation could face “heavy penalties”.

Breaking the new quarantine rule, which applies from August 12th, will also be a punishable offence, he said. 

The governor added that Puglia would be stepping up coronavirus testing for people returning from 'high-risk' countries, though for the moment taking the swab remains voluntary.

Other regional restrictions

Campania says residents returning from any foreign country this month must take either a swab or a blood test when they get home. They should contact their local health authority within 24 hours of arriving in the region, even if they've stopped elsewhere in Italy on their way back.

Meanwhile the northern region of Emilia-Romagna will make testing mandatory for residents returning from Spain, Greece, Croatia or Malta, in a new ordinance due to be signed on Wednesday. Holidaymakers must get tested within 24 hours of arriving in the region, but they'll only have to quarantine if the swab comes back positive.

Sicily's government has indicated that it may introduce its own rules too. 

READ ALSO: Where are Italy's new coronavirus clusters?

While Italy has not introduced any new nationwide restrictions on travel to the three countries, regional governments are threatening to take action after several new coronavirus clusters were started by Italians returning from holidays abroad.

Many of the most widely reported cases involve young Italians travelling on package holidays to busy party destinations, including some 20 teenagers in Veneto who went on a coach tour to Croatia, a dozen teens in Tuscany who visited Greece, eight people in Rome who had been to Malta, and five 19-year-olds in Puglia who went to Greece.

The only EU countries on which Italy has nationwide restrictions are Romania and Bulgaria, whose residents may still travel to Italy but must quarantine for two weeks on arrival.

People from all other members of the EU or Schengen Zone, plus the UK, face no restrictions when coming to Italy.

READ ALSO: Italy's latest travel rules, explained

Quarantine remains compulsory for anyone else arriving in Italy – any region of it – from any non-European countries.

The Italian government is understood to be considering tightening other safety measures across Italy in response to a rise in the number of new infections detected in recent weeks, including making face masks compulsory outside as well as indoors and introducing mandatory testing at airports, stations and ports.

FROM OUR SPANISH SITE: Spain struggles with Western Europe's worst coronavirus infection rate

Member comments

  1. Right. So residents coming from these countries don’t need to quarantine but residents of Italy returning from them do?! Am missing some logic here…?!

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TRAVEL: Why Venice is named among Europe’s cheapest city break destinations

The Italian city of Venice has been named the third-cheapest place for a city break in Europe - a survey result that might surprise some visitors. Here’s why it may not be as costly as you'd think.

TRAVEL: Why Venice is named among Europe’s cheapest city break destinations

A new survey of 100 different cities in Europe by the Omio transport booking website has revealed that Venice is the third-cheapest destination for a city escape, in terms of being the most affordable and having the highest number of free activities and attractions.

The ranking will no doubt come as a surprise to many, due to the city’s reputation as an expensive destination geared towards luxury travel – and the fact that Venetian residents have been leaving the city’s historic centre in droves partly due to high housing costs.

The objective of the study was to identify the best tourist destinations to visit on a reduced budget, due to the current economic climate of inflation and rising prices affecting almost all daily costs.

It also aimed to show tourists that they can save a lot of money if they organise their travel by taking advantage of free offers and opportunities, as well as thinking carefully about where they go.

“Believe it or not, it is possible to have a cheap holiday in Venice,” the study’s authors wrote, advising travellers to “follow a few simple tricks to turn some of Venice’s most expensive places into low-budget havens”. 

READ ALSO: How much does it really cost to live in Venice?

Venice was found to have a total of 136 free tourist attractions, 22 free museums, and 58 guided tours rated as “affordable”. The study also highlighted the city’s 186 public drinking fountains, which local authorities this summer urged visitors to use in order to cut down on bottled water purchases. 

The study however did not include the cost of accommodation, and it put the cost of a 24-hour public transport ticket in Venice at €21.88: several times higher than the prices listed for other cities at the top of the ranking.

Venice is promoting the use of its network of water fountains amid efforts to combat plastic waste. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

The average price of a beer in the floating city also seemed comparatively high at €4.38, though this was below the European average price of €4.91.

Travellers can expect a meal for two in an average restaurant to set them back around €61 – that is, as long as they don’t wander into any of the tourist traps notorious for rip-off prices.

READ ALSO: Nine ways to get into trouble while visiting Venice

Overall Venice got a score of 82.3 percent to take third place, whilst Bruges in Belgium came in second with 93.6 percent and Granada was first with 100 percent.

Further surprises came in the ranking for other Italian cities: Florence was rated the 10th cheapest European city break destination, with 113 free attractions, 17 museums with free entrance, and a 24-hour public transport ticket costing 4 euros.

Meanwhile Naples – where the cost of living is comparatively low – was rated as being slightly more expensive to visit, in 12th place. Tuscan tourist hotspot Pisa came in 13th place, while the northern city of Turin was 23rd.

Milan was 30th on the list, which the study said has 372 free tourist attractions, but higher costs for food and drink

Rome came in 37th place – despite the survey saying the capital has a huge 553 free attractions, 34 free museums, and ten times more public drinking fountains than Venice (1,867).