Italy sees long queues for Covid tests as first ‘weekend of freedom’ begins

Italian media on Friday morning reported long lines outside testing centres as people get ready to travel, visit loved ones, and enjoy relaxed restrictions in most of the country for the first time this year.

Italy sees long queues for Covid tests as first 'weekend of freedom' begins
Customers returned to bar terraces in Milan's Navigli nightlife area this week. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Many coronavirus rules within Italy were relaxed from Monday April 26th under the government’s new emergency decree.

Restaurants, bars, hotels, theatres and museums are gearing up for their first busy weekend after months of tough restrictions, including over Easter and Christmas.

“The weekend of May 1st will be the first real test, not only to verify the falling trend of the contagion curve, but also for the revival of tourism, one of the sectors worst hit by anti-Covid measures”, writes the Ansa news agency.

Some 47 million people living in Italy’s ‘yellow zone’ regions are now free to travel around most of the country.

While five of Italy’s 20 regions remain under enhanced ‘red’ or ‘orange’ zone Covid restrictions, people are still allowed to enter and leave these areas, including for tourism, using a new immunity pass.

Customers returned to restaurants in in downtown Rome on Monday, after months of stop-start restrictions imposed to manage Italy’s second and third waves of Covid-19. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE/AFP

The scheme allows non-essential travel for anyone who can prove they have been fully vaccinated, have recently recovered from Covid, or have been tested within the previous 48 hours.

Ansa reported long queues outside test centres on Friday morning as people waited to get the all-clear and obtain the travel certificate.


Hotels and other types of tourist accommodation reported a boom in bookings recently from domestic holidaymakers keen to get away as restrictions ease.

City centres and nightlife areas have reportedly been busy since rules were relaxed on Monday – despite the 10pm curfew remaining in place nationwide.

Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Museums are also open again in yellow zones, with many major cities allowing their biggest attractions to reopen to visitors from this weekend – though advance ticket reservations are needed. 

Theatres and cinemas are also allowed to reopen with restrictions in place.

Many rules, including those on social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing in public, remain in place.

MAP: Which zone is your region in under Italy’s coronavirus restrictions?

Police are expected to step up patrols and checks in cities over the weekend, Ansa reports.

Italy’s health ministry on Friday confirmed that six regions will remain under tighter restrictions from Monday.

The regions of Puglia, Basilicata, Sicily and Calabria will remain orange zones for at least one more week.

Valle d’Aosta turns red from Monday, while  Sardinia will go from red to the less-restrictive orange zone.

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How will Friday’s strike affect air travel in Italy?

Airline passengers travelling to or from Italy can expect to face disruption on Friday, March 17th, as a nationwide strike is set to affect airports including Milan Linate and Rome Fiumicino.

How will Friday’s strike affect air travel in Italy?

People travelling to and from Italy can expect delays or cancellations on Friday, March 17th due to a nationwide strike involving airport handling and security staff. 

The demonstration was called by Italian unions earlier this month in protest against staff shortages, precarious work contracts and “gruelling shifts”.

According to the latest Italian media reports, as many as 100,000 passengers might have their travel plans disrupted by Friday’s walkout. 

As is often the case with transport strikes in Italy though, the overall impact of the demonstration will vary greatly from airport to airport.

READ ALSO: Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this spring

Security and handling staff at Milan’s Linate Airport will strike for 24 hours, which may result in significant delays and queues for passengers checking in or collecting their luggage. 

Check-in desks

Friday’s strike may result in delays and queues for passengers checking in or collecting their luggage. Photo by Andre PAIN / AFP

Aircraft maintenance staff at Rome’s Fiumicino will strike from 1pm to 5pm, with flight departure times likely to be affected. 

Besides Rome and Milan, baggage handlers at Pisa’s Galileo Galilei Airport will strike from 10am to 2pm, as will ground services staff at the Vincenzo Bellini Airport in Catania.

Finally, staff at Air Dolomiti, a subsidiary of Lufthansa operating routes from Germany to 13 different Italian destinations, will strike from 1pm to 5pm.

At the time of writing, there were no details as to how Friday’s demonstration might affect other airports around the country. 

Current industry agreements however mean a number of flights will be guaranteed to operate during the day. 

READ ALSO: Should you travel in Italy when there’s a strike on?

According to Italian civil aviation authority ENAC, all flights departing between 7am and 10am and between 6pm and 9pm will operate as scheduled. 

Intercontinental flights, including those with layovers at Italian airports, will not be affected by the strike. 

Routes between Italy’s mainland and islands (Sicily and Sardinia) deemed ‘essential’ will be guaranteed, Enac confirmed.

A full list of guaranteed services is available on ENAC’s website

You can keep up to date with the latest strike news from Italy HERE.