Covid-19: What happens if I test positive on arrival in Italy?

Covid-19: What happens if I test positive on arrival in Italy?
Photo: AFP
Some Italian airports have rapid Covid-19 tests available for travellers, and tests are mandatory for those arriving from certain countries. So what happens if you test positive on arrival in Italy? (This article was updated on October 8th).

One big worry for travellers planning on coming to Italy is that they could be asymptomatic, test positive upon arrival, and then end up spending their long-awaited Italian break in quarantine.

Do you need to be tested?

The first thing to know is that Italy does not have a blanket testing requirement for all travellers – so entering the country doesn't automatically require a nasal swab.

The rules are based on which country you're arriving from, and which region of Italy you're going to, as well as all the other restrictions on who can enter Italy in the first place and whether they have to quarantine.
 
If you are coming from the UK, Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Spain, or parts of France including Paris, you will need to be able to show a negative test result or take a test on arrival in Italy.
 
 
Passengers queue for testing at Rome's Fiumicino airport. Photo: AFP
 
Travellers can either get tested at home before they go – both molecular (PCR) and rapid antigen tests are accepted by italian authorities, so long as they're carried out no more than 72 hours before your journey – or within 48 hours of arriving.
 
There is rapid testing available at several of Italy's main transit hubs, including Fiumicino and Ciampino airports in Rome, Malpensa airport in Milan, Marco Polo airport in Venice, the ports of Civitavecchia and Livorno as well as Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence.
 
You can find more details on getting tested when travelling to Italy in a separate article here.
 

 
 
What happens if you test positive?
 
First of all, you are expected to quarantine until you have taken the test and been confirmed negative.
 
If your result comes back positive you're subject to the same self-isolation rules as anyone else in Italy, including any regional variations to the rules. (Check with local authorities before you travel, alternatively your hotel or travel agent should be able to advise.)
 
Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 in Italy is required to undergo a 14-day period of home isolation, under the supervision of the regional ASL (health authority).
 
Since airport testing is controlled by the public health service they should be immediately informed of any positive results and start monitoring you right away. They may call regularly, even daily, to check your symptoms haven't worsened.
 
Having to undergo isolation is not such a big problem for anyone returning to a second home in Italy, but it's a far more complicated matter if you were looking forward to two weeks of sightseeing and sunbathing.

If you test positive, the regional health authority will contact you and explain the next steps and your options, as the specifics can vary by regional authority.

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Hotels may refuse to allow you to quarantine on their premises, so if you can't go to a private address (and you will need to use private means of transport – so your own car – to get there) the local health authority will arrange quarantine facilities.

These may range from comfortable – such as a hotel that has been requisitioned for this purpose – to far less inviting: for example, the island of Sardinia's quarantine facilities reportedly include disused army barracks.

Does Italy waive travel and quarantine restrictions if you test negative?

No and no. In most cases Italy does not accept a negative test result as a substitute for quarantine.

So if you’re entering from outside Europe or from a designated ‘high-risk’ country, you will have spend your first 14 days in Italy in isolation whether you get tested or not. Find out which countries are currently on Italy’s quarantine list here.

Nor can you evade Italy’s ban on non-essential travel from outside Europe by showing a negative test result.

In other words, tourists from the United States, India, Russia or any other country on which Italy has travel restrictions can’t hope to enter by getting a coronavirus test before leaving. Read more about Italy’s travel rules here.

What else do I need to know about travelling to Italy right now?

While not every traveller will have to take a coronavirus test, the Italian Ministry of Health warns people not to travel to Italy if they have symptoms.

The main symptoms include a fever, with a temperature above 37,5°C, a dry cough and breathing difficulties.

All travellers need to complete a form used for testing and tracing purposes. You can download a copy here (in English).
 
Masks are mandatory on all EU flights, as well as at airports and on public transport in Italy. Masks must also be worn in all indoor public places and, after 6pm, in busy outdoor areas. Italian police do enforce the rules strictly and there are fines of up to 400 euros for non-compliance.
 
The government continues to advise people to maintain a distance of one metre from others, wash and sanitise hands frequently, and avoid crowded areas.
 
For further advice please see the Ministry of Health's traveller information page (in English) 
 

 


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