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Italy approves Covid-tested flights from US to Milan

Passengers can now fly from the United States to northern Italy's biggest airport without quarantining if they book a special 'Covid-free' flight.

Italy approves Covid-tested flights from US to Milan
Passengers at Milan Malpensa airport. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Covid-tested flights, which require all passengers to test negative for coronavirus in the 48 hours before boarding as well as taking another test on arrival, have already been operating between the US and Rome for just over two months.

Now the Italian Health Ministry has given permission for airlines to extend the service to Milan’s Malpensa airport, the second-biggest hub in Italy after Rome Fiumicino.

In a circular issued on March 10th, the ministry also extended the scheme until at least the end of June 2021, with the possibility of continuing it further.

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That means that until at least July, passengers will be able to fly from New York or Atlanta in the US to either Rome or Milan without having to quarantine for two weeks.

Italy’s international travel restrictions continue to apply, meaning that the only people eligible to fly from the US are those with an essential reason, such as returning to a permanent residence in Italy or to study or work.

Delta could start offering the service between Milan and New York as soon as this weekend, according to reports, while American Airlines is expected to follow next month.

The first Covid-tested flights proved so popular that the Italian government recently said it wanted to extend the scheme to other countries.

Italy’s last government had already signed off on Covid-tested flights between Italy and Germany, with Lufthansa originally slated to start running services from Frankfurt and Munich to Rome early this year, but those plans were put on hold when Germany went back into lockdown.

The scheme stands to make the biggest difference for travellers outside the European Union, who currently have to spend 14 days in quarantine if they come to Italy.

People arriving from other countries within the EU or Schengen zone – with the exception of Austria – can instead simply show a negative test result from the 48 hours before travel.

Italy has also begun experimenting with Covid-tested train travel, including introducing a high-speed connection between Rome and Milan next month that passengers will have to take a test to board. If successful, the scheme could also be extended to Florence, Venice and Naples. 

Member comments

  1. Anyone know if I, a U.S. citizen, can travel to Italy from the U.S. without my Italian wife. She resides in Italy. We were separated by covid.

    1. spouses of legal residents in italy can travel to italy. I’m an american living here and my american husband was able to visit me without any problems. you just need to show proof of the relationship and have her ID and residency documents. there are other articles on this website that explain it, and you can also look at the FB groups love is not tourism-italy

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POLITICS

Italy’s deputy health minister under fire for questioning Covid vaccines

Opposition leaders called for health undersecretary Marcello Gemmato to resign on Tuesday after the official said he was not "for or against" vaccines.

Italy's deputy health minister under fire for questioning Covid vaccines

Gemmato, a trained pharmacist and member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party, made the remark during an appearance on the political talkshow ReStart on Rai 2 on Monday evening.

READ ALSO: Covid vaccines halved Italy’s death toll, study finds

In a widely-shared clip, the official criticises the previous government’s approach to the Covid pandemic, claiming that for a large part of the crisis Italy had the highest death rate and third highest ‘lethality’ rate (the proportion of Covid patients who died of the disease).

When journalist Aldo Cazzullo interjects to ask whether the toll would have been higher without vaccines, Gemmato responds: “that’s what you say,” and claimed: “We do not have the reverse burden of proof.”

The undersecretary goes on to say that he won’t “fall into the trap of taking a side for or against vaccines”.

After Gemmato’s comments, the president of Italy’s National Federation of Medical Guilds, Filippo Anelli, stressed that official figures showed the Italian vaccination campaign had already prevented some 150,000 deaths, slashing the country’s potential death toll by almost half.

Vaccines also prevented eight million cases of Covid-19, over 500,000 hospitalisations, and more than 55,000 admissions to intensive care, according to a report from Italy’s national health institute (ISS) in April 2021.

Gemmato’s comments provoked calls for him to step down, including from the head of the centre-left Democratic Party, Enrico Letta.

“A health undersecretary who doesn’t take his distance from no-vaxxers is certainly in the wrong job” wrote the leader of the centrist party Action, Carlo Calenda, on Twitter.

Infectious disease expert Matteo Bassetti of Genoa’s San Martino clinic also expressed shock.

“How is it possible to say that there is no scientific proof that vaccines have helped save the lives of millions of people? You just have to read the scientific literature,” Bassetti tweeted. 

In response to the backlash, Gemmato on Tuesday put out a statement saying he believes “vaccines are precious weapons against Covid” and claiming that his words were taken out of context and misused against him.

The Brothers of Italy party was harshly critical of the previous government’s approach to handling the Covid crisis, accusing the former government of using the pandemic as an excuse to “limit freedom” through its use of the ‘green pass’, a proof of vaccination required to access public spaces. 

But since coming into power, Meloni appears to have significantly softened her stance.

Her appointee for health minister, Orazio Schillaci, is a medical doctor who formed part of the team advising the Draghi administration on its handling of the pandemic.

Schillaci, a former dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at Rome’s Tor Vergata University, has described the former government’s green pass scheme as an “indispensable tool for guaranteeing safety in university classrooms”.

Speaking at a session of the G20 on Tuesday, Meloni referenced the role of vaccines in bringing an end to the Covid pandemic.

“Thanks to the extraordinary work of health personnel, vaccines, prevention, and the accountability of citizens, life has gradually returned to normal,’ the prime minister said in a speech.

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