For members


What changes about life in Italy in 2021?

From coronavirus rule changes and Brexit to the budget and tourism, here's what we can expect to change in Italy in the new year.

What changes about life in Italy in 2021?
Police patrol outside the Colosseum in Rome. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Covid-19 vaccinations continue

Italy carried out its first vaccinations on December 27th, and the vaccine programme will be further rolled out from January.

Health authorities have stressed that vaccines against the disease caused by the novel coronavirus will not be immediately distributed to the general public, but given first to high-risk groups including medical staff and the elderly.

Doctors and health care workers are now getting the first doses – some 1.4 million people in total, the health ministry said.

They will be followed by residents of care homes – just over 570,000 people.

Those aged over 80 will be next in line, followed by those aged 60-79, and those suffering from at least one chronic disease.

Vaccines will then be distributed to key workers such as teachers, police, and prison wardens.

The vaccine is free and voluntary. The health ministry has stated that it aims to offer the vaccine to the entire adult population by September.

The exact timeframe for vaccinations for each group may vary between Italy’s regional health authorities. 

The Local has asked for clarification on exactly what will apply to foreign citizens resident in Italy. However, all current vaccines are available to everyone in the country regardless of citizenship, residency, or whether or not they are registered with the Italian national health service (SSN).

Coronavirus restrictions are set to change

Italy’s current coronavirus emergency decree, which sets out the rules aimed at curbing infections, is in force until January 15th.

When the decree was announced on December 3rd, Italian government ministers said the country would “restart” from January 7th – when ski resorts are set to to reopen and in-person classes can resume at schools.

However, doubt has been cast on whether school reopenings can go ahead as planned, as health experts say the contagion rate is still worryingly high.

READ ALSO: What are Italy’s coronavirus rules over Christmas and New Year?

Gyms and pools may be allowed to reopen “by the end of January”, the sports minister has said. But as with all the other rules and restrictons, this will depend on the contagion curve in the coming weeks.

There are fears that a “third wave” of infections is on the way, triggered by socialising and travel over the holiday period despite the tough restrictions in place.

We won’t know if this third wave has materialised until mid-January, when the new decree is due, meaning we’re unlikely to have confirmation of any planned changes under the next decree until then.

Ministers have confirmed that Italy will keep its current tiered sytem of restrictions in place after New Year.

You can follow The Local’s reporting on the coronavirus situation in Italy here.

Photo: AFP

The Brexit transition period ends

January 1st is the big Brexit day and all British citizens living in Italy need to e registered as residents before that date.

Once the post-Brexit transition period comes to an end, the UK will become a ‘third country’.

Brits have until December 31st to apply for Italian residency to keep their rights to live and work in Italy. After that date, British nationals who want to move to Italy will be subject to the same rules as other non-EU nationals.

READ ALSO:  How to register for residency in Italy: A step-by-step guide for Brits

From January, British citizens resident in Italy can apply for a new EU-wide biometric card which proves their residency rights. Applications for Italian long-stay visas will also be opened to Brits

Travel from the UK to Italy is set to become more complicated – though it’s already restricted at the moment by temporary travel rules in place due to Covid-19.

In terms of the pandemic, there’s currently an entry ban in place on travellers from the UK, but those who are residents in Italy are allowed to return home. 

You can read more here about what general post-Brexit rules of travel will apply to Brits, including passports and length of stay.

See our ‘Dealing with Brexit‘ section for more information.

Photo: AFP

Italy to publish 2021 budget in January

The government is currently working on a major budget plan for 2021 worth some 40 billion euros.

Policies are expected to include tax payment exemptions for some tourism and entertainment businesses, incentives to encourage energy efficient renovations, anti-seismic work or the installation of photovoltaic systems, and extended paternity leave, Italian media reports.

The ‘maxi’-budget bill, made up of some 1,100 clauses, is currently being amended before it goes to the Senate for approval in the coming days. We should know what it contains by early January.

‘Christmas cashback’ scheme ends, ‘super cashback’ begins

The Italian government will continue offering shoppers refunds on purchases made by card next year, as part of its ongoing efforts to move Italy away from cash payments.

Cashback di Natale or the ‘Christmas cashback’ scheme was the latest incentive in the government’s ‘Cashless Italy’ strategy, aimed to encourage people to swap cash for card in order to make payments easier to trace and help authorities root out tax evasion.

It allows shoppers to claim money back on all purchases made electronically in-store.

The scheme finishes at the end of December and is replaced by a longer-term cashback scheme in 2021.

The maximum amount per refund will remain the same as under the Christmas Cashback scheme: 15 euros per purchase, on up to a maximum of ten purchases within a set period. The next period will run from January to June, with reimbursements to come in July.

Anyone participating in the scheme is also automatically entered into a 1,500 euro ‘Super Cashback’ prize draw.

The scheme comes alongside a lotteria degli scontrini, or ‘receipt lottery’, which gives consumers and business owners the chance to win up to €5 million for making or taking electronic payments. 

You’ll need to download the government’s ‘IO’ app to participate.

READ ALSO: What’s the IO app and what can you use it for?

Will tourism start to recover in 2021?

Italy’s tourism industry has been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis, and the damage to this important sector has also had a knock-on effect on many other businesses in Italy.

In 2020 the country’s hospitality industry lost 53 billion euros in revenue – and the projected timeframe for recovery keeps getting longer.

“2021 also promises to be a terrible year for tourism”, writes Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, citing industry analysis by Isnart-Unioncamere “which for the first quarter of next year estimates a loss of 7.9 billion euros in turnover, compared to the turnover of 2019”.

The analysis “assumes a scenario in which Covid-19 will continue to mean tough restrictions not only on internal movements but also on those between nations,” Il Sole 24 Ore wrote.

“Between January and March 2021 there will be a 60% reduction in domestic tourism and 85% in international tourism, the report stated, adding that “one-fifth of consumers worldwide have declared that they want to give up international travel, citing environmental impact among their reasons.“

“The chances of a recovery for the tourism industry are thus postponed to Easter 2022,” the report concludes.

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For members


What changes about life in Italy in March 2022?

From the gradual easing of Covid restrictions to the clocks jumping forward an hour, here's what to expect in Italy in March.

What changes about life in Italy in March 2022?

International travel rules change

From March 1st, Italy will allow all fully-vaccinated or recently-recovered travellers from non-EU countries to enter the country without the additional need for a negative Covid test.

Any of a vaccination certificate, certificate of recovery or a negative test result will allow extra-EU arrivals entry into Italy without any quarantine requirement – so unvaccinated travellers and those not recovered from Covid-19 will be able to enter the country with just proof of a negative test.

EXPLAINED: How Italy’s travel rules change in March

Passengers can present certificates of recovery, vaccination or testing in digital or paper format.

All arrivals will still need to complete a digital passenger locator form (dPLF) – find the instructions and download link here.

See further details of the upcoming changes to the travel restrictions here.

International Women’s Day

March 8th is International Women’s Day (la Giornata internazionale dei diritti della donna or simply la Festa della Donna in Italian) and while it’s not any kind of official holiday in Italy, it’s still widely recognised in the form of small-scale celebrations or marches and demonstrations.

You can expect to see bunches of feathery yellow mimosa flowers pop up in florists’ stalls, as it’s traditional in Italy to give these to a woman on International Women’s Day. 

According to Italian Marie Claire, the flower was chosen by early 20th century activists Rita Montagnana and Teresa Mattei both because it can readily be found flowering in the countryside in March, and because despite its delicate appearance, it’s deceptively strong and resilient.

Hospital visits for relatives and food and drink returns to cinemas

Following a unanimous vote by the Italian parliament’s Social Affairs Commission, March 10th is the date on which it will once again become possible for family members to visit their relatives in hospital.

READ ALSO: TIMELINE: When will Italy ease its coronavirus restrictions?

Those who are fully vaccinated and boosted will reportedly be able to access health facilities to visit their relatives without any further requirements, while people who haven’t received a booster shot will need a negative test to enter.

From the same date, it will also be possible to eat and drink in Italy’s cinemas, theatres, concert halls and sports stadiums, Italian news media reports.

Italy’s government had banned the consumption of food and beverages in these venues last Christmas Eve in response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. 

Rome marathon

On March 27th, Rome will host its annual marathon once again.

Starting and ending by the Colosseum, the 26 mile course takes runners along the Tiber and past numerous historic sites including the ancient Roman Circo Massimo chariot race track, the Spanish Steps, Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s Basilica, to name a few.

That means if you’re planning on travelling around central Rome on this date, you should prepare for most of the roads to be cordoned off and for traffic to be significantly diverted.

The race starts at 8.30am, and the maximum completion time is six and a half hours. For those who aren’t fans of running, the event also welcomes power walkers, according to its official website.

The Rome marathon starts and ends at the Colosseum. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

The clocks go forward

March 27th is also the date Daylight Savings Time begins: the clocks jump forward at 2am, and everyone loses an hour of sleep.

While the EU voted in 2019 to scrap DST by 2021, a combination of Covid, Brexit, and an intra-EU stalemate (the EU Council and the EU Commission each insists the other needs to act first before anything can be done) has delayed putting a stop to the clock change, which means it will go ahead once again this March.

READ ALSO: Clocks go back in Italy despite EU deal on scrapping hour change

Italy, for one, is glad of the delays, having previously filed a formal request that the current system be kept in place.

That’s because in southern countries such as Italy or Spain daylight savings actually lengthens the days, helping people save on their energy bills – while in northern Europe the change doesn’t bring any such benefits.

Italy’s state of emergency ends

Italy’s current state of emergency or stato di emergenza, in place since January 31st, 2020, will end on March 31st, 2022, Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced at a business conference on February 23rd. 

The state of emergency is the condition which has allowed the Italian government to bring in emergency measures by decree over the past two years.

READ ALSO: Italy to end Covid state of emergency and cut ‘super green pass’, PM confirms

Bringing the state of emergency to an end doesn’t automatically mean that all current restrictions will be immediately dropped; however Draghi has already confirmed that after March 31st, some rules will be removed.

These include the abolition of Italy’s four-tiered colour coded system of Covid restrictions; the removal of outdoor mask mandates throughout Italy; and an end to the requirements for schoolchildren to wear high-grade FFP2 masks in the classroom or to quarantine if one of their classmates tests positive for the virus.