How you can get a free coronavirus test in 11 Italian cities

Getting tested for coronavirus will become easier in Italian cities from this month, with free testing open to all at major train stations.

How you can get a free coronavirus test in 11 Italian cities
Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

Italy’s Red Cross (Croce Rossa Italiana) plans to carry out up to 3,000 free rapid antigen swab tests a day across 11 of the country’s biggest cities from May.

Freetesting began in April at Rome’s Termini and Milan’s Centrale train stations, and the Red Cross is now setting up facilities at the following nine stations: Bari, Bologna, Cagliari, Florence Santa Maria Novella, Naples Centrale, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Turin Porta Nuova and Venice Santa Lucia.

The first free testing at stations came with the launch of ‘Covid-tested’ train services on the Rome-Milan route.

However, the tests are freely available to the general public, whether or not they are about to board a train.

“Without cost, age limit or medical prescription, anyone can undergo rapid antigenic swab testing,” the Red Cross said when announcing the plan.

The test result can be used as a ‘green pass’, which at the moment is used for domestic travel, but is expected to be extended to EU-wide travel by summer.

READ ALSO: ‘Green pass’: How Italy’s coronavirus immunity card works

The additional nine stations are expected to have their free testing services up and running by mid-May.

In Cagliari, for example, the Red Cross testing facility will open on May 15th in an area of the train station formerly occupied by a newsagents.

It will be open from 8am-2pm, and staffed by a doctor and two nurses, local media reports.

The opening hours for each testing centre are expected to vary between stations.

Coronavirus test certificates are required for passengers on the first ‘Covid-free’ trains, which currently only run on the Milan-Rome route. Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP.

Regional authorities throughout Italy are also looking at opening more Red Cross testing centres in locations outside of major cities but popular with tourists, such as north-western Sardinia.

Meanwhile, Italy is also making home testing kits available in pharmacies and supermarkets in May, and allowing pharmacists to conduct swab tests.

Both will give rapid results in around 15 minutes, and the result would need to be confirmed by a more reliable PCR test if it comes back positive.

The home testing kits will cost around 6-8 euros each, while rapid swab tests at pharmacies will be around 20-40 euros depending on which Italan region you’re in.

While pharmacies can issue test results to be used as a travel ‘green pass’ (depending on regional rules) it’s not clear if a negative result given by home test kits could be valid for travel.

Member comments

  1. Meanwhile you can get tested for free in many locations in the province of Bolzano for a while now. Soon also at farmacies even. After the test you get a QR code which you can use to e.g. eat inside restaurants, or go to hotels.

  2. Does anyone know whether this service still available at Roma Termini, please? And, if so, what the hours and average wait time for a result are. Thank you!

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”