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What will Italy’s coronavirus rules be for summer 2021?

As Italy plans to open up to international tourism for the summer, we look at what restrictions are likely to be in place during the holiday season.

What will Italy's coronavirus rules be for summer 2021?
A lifeguard checks the distance between sunbeds on Fregene beach, near Rome. Photo: Tiziana FABI / AFP

With the news that Italy will soon be issuing a ‘green pass‘ to allow tourism, including from outside the EU, many people have already booked their tickets to Italy for this summer – or are planning to do so soon. But what can they expect when they arrive?

Following the Italian prime minister’s announcement on Tuesday that Italy is “ready to welcome back the world”, tourism businesses in the country are reporting a boom in bookings and many of The Local’s American readers say they’ve already confirmed their Italian holiday plans for 2021.

READ ALSO: Who can travel to Italy right now?

This is despite the Italian government not yet publishing full details of who will be able to travel and when this summer, and what requirements they will face.

Despite a recent easing of Italy’s coronavirus rules, health measures still in place nationwide include a 10pm curfew and a mask-wearing requirement in public at all times, indoors and outdoors.

And though some things are expected to change, it looks unlikely that the restrictions will be as relaxed as much as they were in summer 2020.

Will masks and curfews remain?

It’s likely to be a different holiday experience compared to last summer, when Italy had surpassed its first wave of Covid-19 infections and had restarted its tourism sector.

After months of some of Europe’s harshest lockdown measures, the country relaxed almost all restrictions as the warmer weather approached. But amid reports of hotels not following rules and a large number of cases linked to partying holidaymakers, there was an abrupt tightening of the rules again in mid-August.

Italy’s usually packed beaches are likely to be much more spaced out, making places limited. Photo: Michaela/Unsplash.

The government looks inclined to set more cautious regulations for tourists this year.

Wearing a mask, sanitising your hands and keeping distanced from others are almost certain to remain required.

The Higher Health Institute (ISS) president, Silvio Brusaferro, said in a press conference that it will still take time to relax coronavirus restrictions, including the curfew at 10pm.

MAP: Where in Italy are coronavirus cases falling fastest?

“First of all we need to keep the Rt (reproduction rate) below the safety threshold of 1. Then we need to reduce the pressure on the health services again and get closer to that threshold of 50 cases per week per 100,000 inhabitants, which would allow us to resume a systematic tracking of cases,” he added.

He also pointed to the need for wider vaccne coverage: “Until we have a large part of the population vaccinated, we need to be prudent and progressive,” he said.

The Italian government has said it will review the curfew in mid-May, potentially extending it until 11pm – though this isn’t guaranteed, and there’s no sign the measure could be removed.

A lifeguard wearing a protective facemask on the beach of Fregene near Rome. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

What about beaches?

It will also be the second year of following anti-Covid guidelines at the beach. That means that beach operators will once again need to distance sunbeds and limit the amount of tourists taking up their patch of sand.

The president of the Italian Bathing Syndicate (Sindacato Italiano Balneari), Antonio Capacchione, wrote in a circular to members, viewed by news agency Adnkronos, that “as regards to the bathing establishments, the decree law on re-opening refers to regional provisions of last year or possibly those already issued by the regions this year.”

There are no restrictions currently in place to prevent them operating, so it means the beaches are open.

“There are no limitations on access to beaches. For these reasons, the latest government decree does not contain a date for the reopening of the beaches, as there is no law that closes them. To make it simple, the beaches are open, so operators can start,” he added.

Some of last year’s rules will roll over to 2021

The rules last year dictated that there should be 10 square metres to each umbrella and at least 1.5 metres between each sunbed (though the exact distance required varied by region).

You should not have to wear a mask on a sunbed, as long as the operator has followed these guidelines.

Swimming pools will also be under restrictions, like last year. The density of crowding in the pool is calculated at 4 square meters of water area per person or 7 square meters for pools where you can swim – as opposed to just bathing.

Hot and humid areas will be closed again, which includes saunas and steam rooms, for example.


Restrictions for hotels and holiday resorts

Where accommodation is concerned, such as hotels, resorts, hostels and farm stays (agriturismi), tourists will need to follow anti-Covid measures including one-metre distancing from others and mask-wearing to reduce the risk of infection.

Throughout Italy, it is compulsory to wear a mask in indoor and most outdoor public places. Certain spots don’t require you to wear a mask, such as once you’re seated at your table in a restaurant.

If you’re planning to rent a holiday home, you may be charged extra cleaning fees to ensure the property is compliant with anti-Covid regulations.

What you need to know about travel to Italy

Just as your holiday in Italy will be subject to restrictions so too will be the journey into the country.

Italy is set to allow travel using the green pass to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result – though the details of the scheme are not yet published.

READ ALSO: ‘It’s time to book your holiday’: Italian PM announces new travel passes for summer

Italy currently has varying rules in place depending on the country you’re travelling from and your personal circumstances.

The rules this summer will also depend on your own country’s restrictions. For example, Australia’s travel ban remains in place, while the US is currently warning against travel to Italy and many other countries.

The UK is soon to announce its traffic light system for international travel. Here’s what it means for travelling to Italy.

The Italian Foreign Ministry’s interactive questionnaire will help you determine what the rules are on travel from your country..

Rule changes may depend on citizen ‘responsibility’

As the situation evolves according to the health data and the vaccination rollout, these restrictions could be modified before and throughout the summer.

The number of new cases of Covid-19 in Italy is declining overall, but it’s still a long way from being under control. The vaccination campaign is picking up pace, but it’s still falling short of its targets.

Fabio Ciciliano, a member of the Technical and Scientific Committee told newspaper Il Messaggero: “Let’s be clear: holidays will be quieter, but precautions must continue. I’m talking about masks, distance and hygiene.”

The nation has not yet met the threshold at which infections can be properly controlled. The incidence of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants must approach 50 – but it’s currently more than double that on average, and much higher in many regions, according to the the most recent weekly health data report from the Italian health ministry and the ISS.

The report pointed to the new strains of Covid-19, which are likely to impact any holidays in Italy this year.

“The now prevalent circulation in Italy of the b.1.1.7 variant (known as the English variant) and the presence of other variants that can partially evade the immune response, requires us to continue to maintain particular caution and gradualness in the management of the epidemic,” the report stated.

Ciciliano said, “I want to be very clear: if the behaviour is not rigorous, a new increase in cases that will force subsequent closures will be inevitable. And you cannot think that everything will depend on the Ministry of the Interior regulations, or of the police forces.

“You can watch over the streets and squares, but you can’t do more than that. The problem is the lack of attention to personal behaviour. A lot depends on the sense of responsibility of each citizen,” he added.

For more information on international travel to and from Italy, see the Foreign Ministry’s website and check the restrictions in your destination country with the appropriate embassy.

You can find the current Italian government travel information for your country here.

Find all our latest news updates on travel to, from and within Italy here.

Member comments

  1. Have you read Di Maio’s statement that he made on Saturday?
    Are US tourists going to be admitted in mid-May or in June?
    Why hasn’t this been reported or reviewed?
    Please help!

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Italy lifts mask mandate for private sector workers

Masks will no longer be required in the workplace but Italian companies will have the right to impose restrictions for employees deemed "at risk".

Italy lifts mask mandate for private sector workers

Representatives from the Italian Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health and all major national unions collectively signed off on Thursday a new “shared protocol” (protocollo condiviso) for the implementation of anti-Covid measures in private workplaces. 

Although the full text of the bill will only be made available to the public sometime next week, portions of the document have already been released to the media, thus disclosing the government’s next steps in the fight against the virus.

The most relevant update concerns face masks, which will no longer be mandatory in private workplaces. 

However, the text specifies, FFP2 face masks remain “an important protective item aimed at safeguarding workers’ health”. As such, employers will have the right to autonomously impose the use of face coverings on categories of workers considered “at risk”.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Notably, face coverings may remain mandatory for those working in “indoor settings shared by multiple employees” or even in “outdoor settings where social distancing may not be practicable”. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions (soggetti fragili) may also be subject to such rules, which, it is worth reminding, are left to the employer’s discretion. 

Alongside mask-related restrictions, employers will also have the right to have their staff undergo temperature checks prior to entering the workplace. In such cases, anyone with a body temperature higher than 37.5C will be denied access to the workplace and will be asked to temporarily self-isolate pending further indications from their own doctor.

In line with previous measures, companies will be required to continue supplying sanitising products free of charge and regulate access to common areas (canteens, smoking areas, etc.) so as to avoid gatherings.

Additionally, employers will be advised to keep incentivising smart working (lavoro agile), as it has proved to be “a valuable tool to curb infection, especially for at-risk individuals”.

Provided that the country’s infection curve registers no significant changes, the updated protocol will remain in place until October 31st, when it will yet again be reviewed by the relevant governmental and social parties. 

With the latest round of measures, Italy has now scrapped all Covid-related health measures, except the requirement to wear face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings, and self-isolation provisions for those testing positive. 

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

Italy’s infection curve has been rising significantly since the beginning of June. From June 1st to June 14th, Covid’s R (spreading rate) rate rose back over 1 for the first time since April 8th. Also, from June 17th to June 23rd, the virus’s incidence rate was 504 cases every 100,000 residents, up by 62 per cent on the previous week.

According to Claudio Mastroianni, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Sapienza University of Rome, “with 25 per cent of daily Covid swabs coming back positive and a R rate over 1, the infection curve will likely rise at least until mid-July”.

However, albeit acknowledging the rising number of positive cases, Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa has so far categorically excluded the possibility of re-introducing lapsed Covid measures, saying that it’ll be a “restriction-free summer”.