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EXPLAINED: How has Italy changed its rules on travel from the UK?

As the re-introduction of quarantine and testing have changed plans for those travelling to Italy from the UK, here are the latest rules you need to know and what restrictions remain in place.

EXPLAINED: How has Italy changed its rules on travel from the UK?
Quarantine and testing are mandatory for UK arrivals. Photo: Oli SCARFF/AFP

Travel to Italy has got more complicated again, following the news that all UK arrivals will be required to undergo a mandatory quarantine and testing, amid concerns about the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant.

READ ALSO: How much is the Delta variant spreading in Italy?

After dropping the quarantine requirement for UK travellers just over a month ago, Italy is now joining other countries in Europe such as France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria in tightening the rules afresh.

Italy had been open to all travellers from the UK since May 16th without the need for quarantine on arrival, but due to the UK’s worsening health situation, Italian authorities have revised Italy’s entry requirements, effective as of Monday June 21st.

The new rules are in force from June 21st until at least July 30th, the Italian Embassy in London said on Saturday.

Five-day quarantine and testing

Compulsory quarantine now applies to anyone who has been on UK territory in the 14 days before arrival in Italy, regardless of nationality. 

Arrivals from the UK will need to isolate for five days at an address given to health authorities.

The address can be a private one or that of an accommodation provider (if the provider is happy to allow you to quarantine on the premises). Italy is not currently requiring arrivals from Britain to go into supervised quarantine under ‘Covid hotel’ system, as is being used in the UK.

However, you must notify the local health authority in the region of Italy you’ll be staying in within 48 hours of your arrival. Find contact details here.

READ ALSO: How should travellers from the UK quarantine in Italy?

Following quarantine, a negative test result will be required at the end of the quarantine period.

Travellers “must take a rapid antigenic or molecular swab test for Covid-19 and test negative for release,” stated the UK government.

Anyone found not to be following these rules could end up with a €450 fine.

What are the testing rules?

If flying to Italy, you must show the airline proof of a negative test taken no more than 48 hours before travel.

If you arrive without a negative test, you “will need to self-isolate for 10 days and undertake a test at the end of the isolation period,” added the UK authorities.

Anyone entering Italy – not just those flying – must be able to show proof of a negative test result on arrival.

READ ALSO: What Covid-19 tests do I need for travel between Italy and the UK?

Photo: MARCO SABADIN/AFP

Exemptions to the quarantine period

Italy does not have exemptions in place for vaccinated travellers.

The quarantine and testing rules apply equally to people arriving in Italy by car or other means of transport.

The only exemptions are for “specific categories of workers and for stays up to 120 hours for work, health or other urgent reasons,” read a tweet from the Italian Embassy in London.

“In case of symptoms everyone should isolate. 6-year-old or younger children do not have to take tests,” it added.

Travellers transiting Italy in a private vehicle for less than 36 hours are also exempt from the quarantine.

Entry paperwork

People travelling from the UK should fill out this online digital form. This will generate a QR code, which you’ll need to show to your travel provider or the Border Police if requested. There’s a paper form if you cannot access it digitally.

You should also inform the local health authority in the region of Italy to which you are travelling within 48 hours of arrival, stating where you plan to quarantine and how they can reach you. Find regional contacts here.

The UK government advice is to carry proof of your residence when entering Italy if you are a UK national resident in Italy.

Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Flying to Italy

Many people planning to fly to Italy this month had already reported a lack of flights on many UK-Italy routes, and there have been widespread reports of last-minute cancellations this week.

Further flight cancellations have ensued following the British government’s decision to impose a four-week delay to its so-called ‘Freedom Day’ – when the last remaining Covid-19 restrictions were to be lifted in the country.

The UK government has advised travellers to keep checking if their flights are still running.

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“Many airlines and airports serving Italy are operating a reduced service and may be subject to change. You are strongly advised to check your airline’s website, as well as the website for the airport you are intending to fly to for the latest information,” stated UK authorities.

The UK’s rules on travel from Italy

Italy is on the UK’s ‘amber’ list for travel, which means travel is possible but the British government has stressed people should not be booking holidays to these countries at the moment.

It is not yet known if Italy may be moved to the ‘green’ list under the British government’s next review.

Passengers who have reasons to want to travel Italy despite the government advice, such as visiting loved ones after postponed trips or to attend weddings, must present a pre-departure test result and then quarantine at home for 10 days upon arrival in England, Wales or Scotland.

In addition, PCR tests are required on days two and eight of quarantine.

Restrictions within Italy are easing

Italy is restarting tourism for summer as the country eases its health measures.

The new travel rules came as Italy opens up to visitors from the US, Canada and Japan and announces the details of its health certificate for travel within the EU.

All Italian regions but one are due to drop Covid-19 restrictions from Monday 21st as the national infection rate has fallen further.

It means that almost all regional authorities are allowed to abandon most of the remaining coronavirus restrictions earlier than planned under the national roadmap for reopening.

EXPLAINED:

Only mask-wearing and social distancing rules must remain in place, the health minister has said. House parties and large gatherings are also forbidden.

Italy’s evening curfew, which doesn’t apply to Italy’s lowest risk so-called ‘white zone’ regions, currently starts at midnight and will be scrapped completely on June 21st.

Find more information about travelling to or from Italy on the Health Ministry’s website (in English).

You can also check the Italian Government’s online questionnaire (in English) for more advice on entry requirements and travel to Italy.

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VENICE

‘Fighting for survival’: Has Venice become a city no one can live in?

As the population of Venice sinks below 50,000, activists say 'normal life' is impossible in the floating city. What does the future hold for its dwindling number of residents?

'Fighting for survival': Has Venice become a city no one can live in?

Venice made national and international headlines last week with the news that its resident population had fallen below 50,000 for the first time, a stark symbol of the city’s metamorphosis from thriving metropolis to tourist playground.

There was some initial confusion as to the source of the figure: a widely-shared story from news agency Ansa said that Venice City Hall (the Comune di Venezia)’s statistics office had recorded its population size as 49,997 on August 10th – but when contacted by The Local, the comune denied having provided any such information, and said its most up-to-date population stats only cover up to July 31st.

Instead, the number appears to have come from Venessia, a Venice-based activist group which maintains a (de)population counter based on provisional updates from the civil registry office that have yet to be vetted.

The counter put the city’s population below the 50,000 threshold on August 10th; as of Thursday, the number had dropped to 49,989.

Matteo Secchi points to a population tracker that counts 49,997 Venetian residents.
Matteo Secchi points to a population tracker that counts 49,997 Venetian residents. Credit: Venessia.com

The exact moment when Venice lost its 50,000th resident may be lost to history, but what’s undeniable is that the city’s permanent population is disappearing at an alarming rate, from over 174,000 in 1951 to less than a third of that today. Meanwhile, its tourist numbers continue to break records.

“I feel like a stranger in my own home,” says Matteo Secchi, a native Venetian who leads the Venessia.com group and runs its website.

“I live near the Rialto Bridge, and there are no more Venetians there, only foreigners. Not that there’s anything wrong with foreigners…. we are open to all cultures, but we would like ours to survive too.”

READ ALSO: Mass tourism is back in Italy – but the way we travel is changing

Secchi currently works on a hotel reception desk after his own B&B went under during the pandemic – an irony which, given Venessia’s emphasis on the damage inflicted by the tourist industry on the city, is not lost on him.

“Everyone works in the tourism sector here,” he says matter-of-factly.

It’s not that tourism is an inherent evil, says Secchi, acknowledging that it’s made Venice rich; but its implacable hold on the city has driven up rents and property prices, causing ordinary shops and affordable accommodation to disappear.

“There are fewer of us all the time because you can’t live normally,” he says.

He compares modern-day Venice to Disneyland, saying he often feels like “a little monkey: people come and take photos and say, ‘look at this nut!'”. What young person wants to live their life as an unpaid theme park mascot?

OPINION: Why more of Italy’s top destinations must limit tourist numbers

In 2009, Secchi and the other Venessia organisers staged a mock funeral for Venice after its population dropped below 60,000. The spectacle involved rowing a pink coffin down the Grand Canal, flanked by several gondolas, and depositing it outside City Hall.

Though he’s proud of the demonstration and the attention it received (“The second-biggest news story out of Italy that year, after the Aquila earthquake!”) he has no plans hold another one this time, noting that of the five founding members of his organisation, he’s the only one still alive.

Venessia's 2009 'funeral' for Venice.
Venessia’s 2009 ‘funeral’ for Venice. Photo by ANDREA PATTARO / AFP.

Venessia has a long list of recommendations for how to rebuild the city’s population, including giving tax breaks to all non-tourism businesses, offering financial incentives for landlords to rent to residents rather than tourists, and having a ten-year moratorium on building tourist accommodation (“Do you think the comune would agree to this?” I ask of the latter. “No!” Secchi chuckles).

One of the organisation’s more realistic proposals is levying a tax on tourist rentals to finance the renovation of Venice’s dilapidated public housing, much of which stands curiously empty for a city with some of the highest rents and real estate values in the country.

READ ALSO: ‘The myth of Venice’: How the Venetian brand helps the city survive

There’s no easily accessed public record of exactly how many empty public housing units there are in Venice, but the issue was the subject of a Vice documentary in the early days of the pandemic, when some restaurant and hotel workers suddenly out of a job were forced to squat in abandoned buildings unfit for human habitation.

Secchi becomes particularly animated on this point. “It’s very interesting – these numbers now form the basis of our protest, we’re going to focus on them. It’s been years that we’ve been saying ‘ah, there are all these empty homes’, but we’ve never got official figures.” 

Activists hold up a banner displaying the number 49,999, as part of a campaign to draw attention to Venice's rapid depopulation.
Activists hold up a banner displaying the number 49,999, as part of a campaign to draw attention to Venice’s rapid depopulation. Credit: Venessia.com

While the activist is frustrated with the comune‘s inaction in the face of what he sees as a slow-motion catastrophe, Secchi doesn’t think the city’s current leaders are worse than its any of its previous ones.

“In the past 40 years, there hasn’t been an administration capable of handling this issue,” he says.

A quality they all tend to share, in Secchi’s view, is that they have a “coda di paglia” – literally, a ‘straw tail’; an expression that refers to a person who is highly defensive in response to any criticism.

When the latest population figures made the headlines, the comune were quick to dismiss the issue as a false alarm, saying that the numbers fail to take into account all the students and temporary workers who live in the city without being registered residents.

READ ALSO: How will the new tourist-control system work in Venice?

Secchi rejects the notion that these people in these categories count as Venetians, arguing that a community is made up of individuals who put down roots, not those who pass through for a few months or years.

But if they want to view the issue purely in terms of numbers, he says, by their own logic the comune should take into account all the people who falsely claim Venice as their primary residence in order to evade the inflated property taxes that come with second home ownership, but in reality live elsewhere most of the year.

A banner hung on a washing line bears the number 49,999. Venessia began a countdown to the number as publicity campaign to draw attention to the city's population decline, several months ago.

A banner on a washing line bears the number 49,999. Venessia began a countdown publicity campaign to highlight the city’s population decline several months ago. Credit: Venessia.com

Venice has recently taken one step to address its over-tourism problem, with the announcement by Mayor Luigi Brugnaro at the start of July that the city will impose a long-discussed tourist tax of €3-€10 for day-trippers from January 2023.

Whether the tax will have any real calming effect on tourism, or be used to benefit residents in a way that might help rebuild their numbers, remains to be seen.

“We’re in favour of freedom, but we also want to defend our identity,” says Secchi.

“We’re not fighting for anything strange; we’re fighting for our survival.”

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