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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EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

Venice is introducing a new system to discourage day-trippers in hopes of curbing problems with overtourism in the popular hotspot. Here is what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

After years of discussing a possible “tourist tax”, the city of Venice has confirmed it will make day-trippers pay from €3 to €10 for access to the city centre starting on January 16th.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the goal of the new tourism fee is to discourage day tourism at certain times of the year and encourage overnight tourism. Day-trippers will have to pay a fee, but those who stay overnight continue only to have to pay the city tax of €2 to €5, according to a government press release.

The Commission and the City Council will now examine the regulatory text for the final green light scheduled for the summer.

“We are the first in the world to introduce this system, and we are aware that not everything will work well from the beginning, but we will be ready to improve in the course of work. We want to guarantee the tourist the best quality of the visit and make sure that the city is able to give visitors all the services they need”, said Tourism Secretary Simone Venturini.

READ ALSO: After flooding and coronavirus, is it time Venice stopped relying on tourism?

How much will I have to pay?

The contributo di acesso, or access contribution, will cost from €3 to €10, depending on factors such as tourism numbers for the day and season.

The city will determine a certain threshold of tourists, after which people will be required to pay higher sums. Travellers are encouraged to book in advance to avoid price increases.

Does the payment have to be made in advance?

The government said that nobody would be denied entry to Venice, meaning a pre-registration is not necessary. However, the mayor said that those who book their visit in advance would be “rewarded”. The reward will likely discount the fee.

How will the system work? Where do I pay?

According to the City of Venice, the payment is an alternative to the city tax. It will be required from every person that goes to the old city centre of Venice, as well as other major tourist destinations and islands in the region.

READ ALSO: 16 surprising facts about Venice to mark 16 centuries of the lagoon city

A single payment guarantees access to the old town and the smaller islands.

Tourists will be able to pay through an online and “multilingual” platform where they will receive a QR code to present in case of controls. Tickets should also be available to buy in connection with public transport – so if you are arriving by train, it will be possible to buy the train ticket and the entry pass together.

Who is excluded or exempt from the payment?

There are several exceptions to the payment, according to the website. Among them are residents from the Comune di Venezia, those who work or study there, and those who own homes in the city.

Additionally, exceptions include those born in the Comune di Venezia, children under six years of age, people with disabilities and their accompanying person, public workers, volunteers, people visiting family members, prisoners, or attending funerals, and many others.

Residents of the Veneto region “up to the thresholds that will be set by a specific Council resolution” are also exempt.

Those who stay overnight and, therefore, already pay the city tax through their hotel or short-term rental booking are also exempt from the fee.

The city of Murano, in the metropolitan region of Venice (Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash)

What about people arriving on cruises?

Venice is a very popular stop for cruise ships and people visiting the city on a cruise tour will also have to pay the fee as they disembark in the old town. However, the City of Venice said they might determine a lump-sum measure in agreement with the relevant carriers.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why more of Italy’s top destinations must limit tourist numbers

Which smaller islands are included?

Only one ticket and payment is required for those travelling to multiple islands, including Venice. The islands that are part of the group are:

  • Lido di Venezia
  • Pellestrina
  • Murano
  • Burano
  • Torcello
  • Sant’Erasmo
  • Mazzorbo
  • Mazzorbetto
  • Vignole
  • S. Andrea
  • La certosa
  • S. Servolo
  • S. Clemente
  • Poveglia

What if I simply don’t pay?

If you fail to produce proof of payment or that you are exempt from the fee, the sanction is from €50 to €300. The fine is the same in the case of people making false statements trying to obtain exemptions or reductions.

Additionally, visitors who don’t pay in advance will have to pay the full €10 fee.

For more info click here.