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Italy imposes quarantine for all travellers arriving from EU

Italy will require travellers arriving from all other EU countries to quarantine for five days on arrival, the health minister said on Tuesday, in a move expected to discourage Easter trips.

Italy imposes quarantine for all travellers arriving from EU
Temperature checks on arrivals at Rome's Fiumicino Airport. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Health Minister Roberto Speranza has signed a new ordinance requiring anyone entering Italy from another member of the EU or Schengen Zone to get tested for coronavirus before departure and observe quarantine regardless of the results, he announced on Twitter.

They must then get tested again after five days in isolation.

The new rules are in force from March 31st to April 6th.

They will apply to foreign visitors and returning residents alike, with the only exceptions for reasons of “proven necessity and urgency”, a ministry official told AFP.

EXPLAINED: What are Italy’s rules for travel over Easter?

Previously most travellers within the EU simply had to test negative up to 48 hours before arriving in Italy, while quarantine only applied to people arriving from countries outside the bloc. 

The quarantine period is nonetheless shorter for EU travellers at five days. People arriving from non-member states have to spend 14 days in isolation.

The move seems designed to discourage travel over the upcoming Easter break, when all of Italy will go into a three-day lockdown.

Representatives of the Italian tourism industry had criticised rules that would allow people in Italy to take a holiday overseas but not within the country, due to strict limits on non-essential travel between towns or regions.

Tourism within the EU remains possible under Italy’s international travel restrictions, but is discouraged by the Italian Foreign Ministry which urges people to avoid any overseas trips unless absolutely necessary.

A passenger gets tested on arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino airport. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

Some of Italy’s neighbours already impose quarantine on travellers arriving from other parts of Europe, including Austria, Switzerland and Sweden, while others including Germany require air passengers to show proof of a negative coronavirus test.

Italy has separate restrictions on travel from Austria, with arriving passengers subject to tests before and after arrival as well as a 14-day quarantine, followed by a third test.

Travellers who are subject to quarantine should report the address where they plan to self-isolate to the local heath authorities on arrival, then make their way to it by private transport only. They must then remain inside for the duration of the quarantine period, avoiding contact with anyone else who shares the accommodation.

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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

EU sees trouble but no breakdown if Italy’s far right takes power

The potential emergence of a far-right government in Italy has put the European Union on alert for disruptions, with fears that unity over the war in Ukraine could be jeopardised.

EU sees trouble but no breakdown if Italy's far right takes power

Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni and the League’s Matteo Salvini are slated to be the big winners in Sunday’s general election on a firmly “Italians First” agenda, in which officials in Brussels largely play the role of the bogeyman.

The biggest worries concern the economy.

Italy’s massive debt is seen as a threat to European stability if Rome turns its back on the sound financing championed by outgoing prime minister, Mario Draghi, a darling of the EU political establishment.

A victory by nationalists Meloni and Salvini would follow fast on an election in Sweden where the virulently anti-migration and eurosceptic Sweden Democrats entered a ruling coalition, just months before the Scandinavian country is due to take over the EU’s rotating presidency.

READ ALSO: Giorgia Meloni’s party will likely win the elections – but will it last?

But officials in Brussels said they would not jump to conclusions about Italy, cautiously hanging on to reassurances made by key right-wing players ahead of the vote.

Giorgia Meloni delivers speech at party rally

Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni (Rear C on stage) delivers a speech on September 23, 2022 in Naples. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

“This is not the first time that we risk confronting governments formed with far-right or far-left parties,” said European Commissioner Didier Reynders, a veteran of EU politics.

“Let voters choose their elected representatives. We will react to the actions of the new government and we have instruments at our disposal,” he added.

That was echoed by Commission head Ursula von der Leyen, who warned that Brussels had “tools” to deal with errant member states.

“My approach is that whatever democratic government is willing to work with us, we’re working together,” she said.

Anti-immigration League leader Matteo Salvini condemned the EU chief’s comments on Friday, calling them “squalid threats”.

‘Benefit of the doubt’

Italy has huge amounts of EU money on the line. It is awaiting nearly 200 billion euros in EU cash and loans as part of the country’s massive share of the bloc’s coronavirus recovery stimulus package.

In order to secure each instalment, the government must deliver on a long list of commitments to reform and cut back spending made by previous administrations.

EXPLAINED: Is Brothers of Italy a ‘far right’ party?

“To do without the billions from the recovery plan would be suicidal,” said Sebastien Maillard, director of the Jacques Delors institute.

“We will give them the benefit of the doubt,” said an EU official, who works closely with Italy on economic issues.

and right-wing parties Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d'Italia, FdI), the League (Lega) and Forza Italia at Piazza del Popolo in Rome, ahead of the September 25 general election.

(From L) Leader of Italian far-right Lega (League) party Matteo Salvini, Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi, leader of Italian far-right party Brothers of Italy Giorgia Meloni, and Italian centre-right lawmaker Maurizio Lupi on stage on September 22, 2022 during a joint rally of Italy’s coalition of far-right and right-wing parties. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

“We will judge them on their programme, who will be the finance minister. The names being mentioned are people that we in Brussels are familiar with,” the official added.

READ ALSO: Political cheat sheet: Understanding the Brothers of Italy

However, when it comes to Russia, many fear that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will find in Italy a quick ally in his quest to water down measures against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A longtime friend of the Kremlin, Salvini has promised that he will not try to undo the EU sanctions. But many believe that his government will make the process more arduous in the coming months.

Whether the war or soaring inflation, “what we are facing in the coming months is going to be very difficult and very much test European unity”, said Fabian Zuleeg, chief executive at the European Policy Centre.

The likely election result in Italy is “not going to help in making some of these hard decisions”, he added.

READ ALSO: TIMELINE: What happens on election day and when do we get the results?

France’s European affairs minister, Laurence Boone, pointed to the headache of the far-right’s unpredictability.

“One day they are for the euro, one day they are not for the euro. One day they support Russia, one day they change their minds,” she told French radio.

“We have European institutions that work. We will work together. But it is true that it is worrying,” she added

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