While other countries may be relaxing their rules over Christmas, Italy has announced it will crack down on travel both to and within Italy.
The government is especially keen to discourage residents from taking ski trips to other European countries such as Switzerland, which has reopened its slopes while Italy's remain closed.
Its solution is to impose quarantine on anyone entering Italy over Christmas or New Year, as well as stepping up mandatory coronavirus testing for travellers.
The rules, introduced in a new emergency decree signed on December 3rd, come into force immediately but will get progressively stricter the closer we come to Christmas holidays.
They will ease off after the traditional end of the Christmas period on January 6th, and be replaced by a new set of rules from January 16th.
If you or loved ones are planning to travel, here's what you need to know.
Mandatory quarantine for everyone arriving over Christmas and New Year
The biggest change is that everyone who enters Italy between December 21st and January 6th will have to quarantine for 14 days, including people travelling from within the European Union.
That applies to all travellers, regardless of nationality and whether you live in Italy or are just visiting, and including if you're entering Italy by private transport.
Photo: Jure Makovec/AFP
Upon arrival, you will have to complete a form (available here or from your airline) giving your contact details and the address in Italy where you plan to quarantine. You will need to organise your own transport from the airport without taking trains, buses, coaches or other public transport to reach your destination.
Once you're at your place of quarantine, you should not go outside unless there's an emergency, nor can you invite anyone over or socialise with other housemates (unless you're quarantining together).
You are also required to inform the local health service, or ASL, so that they can monitor you. Depending on where you are, you should be able to do this by phone, email or by filling in a form online: consult your region's website for more information.
Pre-travel testing extended to all EU countries
While Italy previously imposed mandatory coronavirus tests on travellers from certain European countries, from December 10th the requirement will be extended to people arriving from any country in the EU, Schengen Zone or the UK.
In addition, the new decree states that you'll have to get a test before you travel instead of on arrival in Italy. That means you should prepare to arrange a swab within the 48 hours before you depart for Italy, rather than getting tested at the Italian airport or station where you arrive.
People who arrive without proof of a negative test result will have to quarantine for 14 days.
Photo: Pierre Teyssot/AFP
Before December 10th, only people travelling from 'high-risk' European countries – Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Romania, Spain and the UK – will have to test negative before they travel.
And between December 21st to January 6th, everyone arriving in Italy will have to quarantine regardless.
As far as we know, EU travellers can go back to testing negative to avoid quarantine from January 7th until the rules are revised again on January 16th.
Canadians can no longer visit Italy as tourists
Italy has revised its list of countries outside Europe whose residents are allowed to visit for non-essential reasons, including for tourism.
Canada has been removed, along with Georgia and Tunisia. Residents of these countries must now prove they have an urgent reason such as work, health, study or family emergencies in order to enter Italy. (Citizens of these countries who live in Italy remain free to return to their Italian residence.)
Meanwhile Singapore has been added to the 'safe' list and Romania has been recategorised in line with other EU countries.
The revised list, effective December 4th, is as follows:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
Residents of any of these countries are free to visit Italy, but must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
No-go travel ban on high-risk countries lifted
Until now 16 countries were subject to Italy's tightest travel restrictions, with entry all but barred.
But starting December 4th, these countries will be subject to the same restrictions as most other places outside the EU: travel is permitted for essential reasons of work, study, health or family emergency, or for people who usually live in Italy and are returning home.
Upon arrival in Italy, they will have to quarantine for 14 days.
The change affects the following countries:
- Bosnia Herzegovina
- Dominican Republic
- North Macedonia
Rules for Americans remain unchanged
People travelling from the United States, India, Russia, China or any other countries outside Europe (apart from the eight on Italy's 'safe' list above) remain the same: you can travel for essential reasons or to return home, but not as a tourist.
If you are eligible to travel, you'll have to quarantine for 14 days.
You can avoid quarantine, however, if you travel on one of the new 'Covid-tested' flights starting between the US and Italy on December 8th, on which all passengers must test negative before boarding.
Remember that these flights only get you out of quarantine; you'll still have to prove to border police that you have an urgent reason to travel to Italy.
Travel within Italy restricted
Domestic travel will also be restricted throughout December and early January.
No non-essential travel is allowed in or out of regions classified as high-risk red or orange zones under Italy's tier system, which the government has confirmed will remain in place under the latest decree. Travel between towns is also restricted in these zones.
From December 21st to January 6th, travel between any regions of Italy – including lower-risk yellow zones – will be limited to essential journeys.
And on December 25th and 26th as well as January 1st, you will not be allowed to leave your own municipality (comune) except for emergencies.
Hotels can remain open
Hotels and other forms of accommodation are allowed to stay open throughout the holidays, though with the drop-off in tourism some will no doubt close.
There are some restrictions on serving food and drink, including a 6pm closing time for hotel bars and restaurants on New Year's Eve.
For more information on international travel to and from Italy, see the Foreign Ministry's website and check the restrictions in your destination country with the appropriate embassy.
The Local is not able to give advice on individual cases.