TRAVEL: How the Italian government has left tourists angry and confused about summer plans

Would-be visitors to Italy say they are frustrated and confused following a series of announcements about the Italian government’s new rules for travel.

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People longing to return to Italy this summer are still waiting for clear information from the Italian government. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Family holidays, wedding plans and more are hanging in the balance this week as travellers wait to find out if they’ll need to cancel or reschedule trips to Italy, after the country’s prime minister urged people to go ahead and book – and the foreign minister days later cast doubt on the reopening plans.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi stated last Tuesday that the country was ready to “welcome back the world” and urged people to “book your holidays to Italy”, saying tourism would be allowed using a new travel ‘green pass’ from mid-May.

But a week after Draghi’s announcement, the Italian government has yet to publish any guidelines or further details about its plans for restarting summer tourism.

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

Meanwhile, follow-up statements made by the Italian foreign minister and tourism minister in recent days have only confused holidaymakers further.

Answering a question from journalists about Draghi’s statement, Italy’s tourism minister Massimo Garavaglia said on Wednesday that the green pass would be “valid for everyone, also and above all for tourists from outside the EU,” and singled out the UK and US as particularly important to Italy’s tourism industry.

Italy’s tourism businesses are gearing up for summer – despite not knowing how many visitors they could get or when they’ll arrive. Photo: Vincenzo PINTO/AFP

But foreign minister Luigi Di Maio cast doubt on the reopening plan on Saturday, as he said the government is now looking at putting an end to the quarantine requirement for US visitors from June.

He did not confirm when Italy would reopen to tourists from other countries, saying only that Italy is “hoping” to drop the quarantine requirement for visitors from the European Union, Britain, and Israel “by mid-May”.

“The aim is to reopen to visitors from foreign countries which have reached a high level of vaccinations, loosening some measures as early as mid-May,” he said.

Ministers did not name any other countries in their statements.

With just days left to go until at least some of the travel restrictions are set to be dropped, many people are still unsure whether their trips to Italy can go ahead.

READ ALSO: ‘Our tickets are booked’: the Americans who can’t wait to return to Italy

Several of The Local’s members in the US and UK contacted us this week to say they were left feeling angry, frustrated or nervous following the string of announcements by ministers.

“If the government tells us “come to Italy”, they should mean it and not back off,” said one reader. “It is beyond painful to cancel and redo plans, especially for us who have responsibilities and commitments in Italy and have not been able to get back for almost two years.”

Angela from Arkansas, USA, said she doesn’t know whether to cancel her family’s long-planned trip to Italy in early June.

“Last week when they announced that we would be able to come, I rebooked flights. Now, with the new statements, I just don’t know what to do,” she told The Local.

“I have to cancel our apartments and hotels soon or I will lose all of the money (and I’ve paid in full). If I cancel now, I imagine they will then say they will be open.”

“I just wish there was a date or something for certain, this uncertainty is nerve-wracking.”

Italy has begun relaxing many of its coronavirus restrictions as summer begins. Photo: Vincenzo PINTO/AFP

Another reader planning a wedding in Italy next month described the situation as “totally frustrating”.

“We ramped up the wedding plans in Italy for June 15th after Draghi made his statement and indicated that it would be easy with the Italian paper green pass.”

READ ALSO: How to get Italy’s coronavirus immunity ‘green pass’ for travel

“I completely understand if the virus spikes again, that things could change. But just give us the details about dates and forms to fill out and requirements if the virus rates remain stable.”

“I am just about ready to cancel Italy and go to Greece.”

In Italy, those working in the badly-hit tourism industry also spoke of their frustration at not yet having a restart date or clear information to give to customers.

“It’s beyond frustrating and I really would have expected some clarity from the government by now,” said Christopher Mueller, owner of Hotel Lupaia in Montefollonico, Tuscany.

“We have guests booked for next week, funnily enough it seems they care less about the regulations than we do.”

It’s not yet clear which measures will be in place once visitors arrive in Italy this summer. Photo (from 2020): Vincenzo PINTO/AFP

At the moment, Italy has strict quarantine or testing rules in place for almost all international travelers, including those from within the EU.

Many non-EU travellers, including from the US and Canada, face heavy restrictions on visiting Italy for non-essential reasons.

Arrivals from the EU and UK can currently enter Italy for any reason but must quarantine for five days on arrival and take two coronavirus tests.

Under Italy’s new ‘green pass’ scheme, all quarantine requirements look likely to be dropped for passengers who can show they’ve been fully vaccinated, have recently recovered from Covid or have tested negative within the past 48 hours.

However the Italian government is yet to confirm dates for travel from each country, or give information about obtaining the correct paperwork.

READ ALSO: Quarantine, curfew and weddings – What rules will Italy relax next?

The Local has contacted Italy’s Tourism Ministry and Foreign Ministry to ask for clarification on the revised rules.

Confirmation of exactly who can travel and when is expected on Friday, as the government is set to announce the latest round of reopenings and rule changes by May 15th.

Under its roadmap for relaxing the coronavirus rules in the country, Italy’s government plans to allow more businesses to open and may relax other measures from mid-May.

The remaining rules will then be reviewed again in June, though no exact date has yet been given.

You can find the current Italian government travel information for all countries here.

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

Member comments

  1. I also canceled my summer plans and rebooked with Italy. In addition to being fully vaccinated, I have a Covid-Free flight booked which requires three Covid tests. Two weeks of rooms are secured and I have began monitoring domestic trains and ferries. Please let Americans know something on May 15th. We ARE going abroad this summer, so please let it be ITALY!!!

    1. Sharon,
      So many of us feel this way! We can’t change our dates because of vacation time from work but we would all like to go to Italy and it is almost too late to change plans now. Just a firm opening date is all we need to know, instead of this back and forth. I am almost ready to just cancel and be done with it. I have until Friday, then I cancel.

  2. Not much is said about visitors from New Zealand and Australia although we have extremely low Covid rates. Please include these countries in your commentary

    1. Hi,

      Of course – we’ll be more than happy to give an update on travel from these countries too as soon as the Italian government makes some information available.

      Unfortunately they haven’t so far – as written in the article: “Ministers did not name any other countries in their statements.”

  3. Ditto…….We have house on Lake Garda …….we are fully vaccinated…….comply with British covid regulations on testing etc…need some clarification on quarantine rules to make it viable to travel so we can to maintain our property and enjoy the lake etc.

  4. We have a villa in Carovigno, and a flight booked for 29th May. What is worrying me is how and where we would get any tests that might be needed while we are in Italy. There is so little information anywhere. Both my husband and I will be fully vaccinated and will have had a PCR test to be fit to fly. It is very unsettling.

    1. I live near Siena. You can get tested at nerby many pharmacies and certainly at private diagnostic centers sometimes without an appointment or with an appointment on very short notice. I imagine it would be similar where you are going.

  5. Seems like we just have to cancel our 4 week holiday in Italia and book in Greece instead

    1. Does Greece welcome visitors now without quarantine requirements, or is it also waiting for the implementation of the EU green pass?

  6. Still more confusing statements out today. No date and more about Covid tested flights. Airlines can’t add these flights overnight or in two or three weeks. From – “Our goal is to reopen Italy as soon as possible to tourism, both our own and foreign”, said Draghi. “The pandemic has had enormous economic effects on tour operators and we are working to get them started again as soon as possible and with maximum safety. The first initiative is the effort that the government makes for the rapid completion of the vaccination campaign. Between the end of June and the beginning of June. July we will have vaccinated with at least one dose all the frail and over 60 “. On tourist flows, “as regards the G7 countries, in particular the USA, Japan and Canada, entry without quarantine in the event of vaccination certification will be favored”. ” With regard to tourist flows, we plan to expand the experimentation of “Covid-tested” flights, which includes more lines, more routes and more airports . “

  7. I think a big part of the problem is the EU and the idea of an all-EU green pass. The EU is so bureaucratic and accordingly slow to move that it will almost certainly botch the green pass for summer tourism, just as it has botched the vaccination program. Italy should not wait for the EU to get its act together, if that ever happens. Similarly, other nations in the EU such as Italy, France, Greece and Spain should just welcome vaccinated or COVID-free tested visitors and not worry about fairness or who is being left behind.
    One of Italy’s big problems is getting its population vaccinated, and the national government needs to push hard, get the doses and step on the toes of the regional ASLs to get this accomplished ASAP.

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Italy allows suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work

Italian heathcare staff suspended over their refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 can now return to work, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni confirmed on Monday.

Italy allows suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work

Italy become the first country in Europe to make it obligatory for healthcare workers to be vaccinated, ruling in 2021 that they must have the jab or be transferred to other roles or suspended without pay.

That obligation had been set to expire in December, but was brought forward to Tuesday due to “a shortage of medical and health personnel”, Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said.

READ ALSO: Is Italy’s government planning to scrap all Covid measures?

Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, and has since registered nearly 180,000 deaths.

Schillaci first announced the plan to scrap the rule on Friday in a statement saying data showed the virus’ impact on hospitals  “is now limited”.

Those who refuse vaccination will be “reintegrated” into the workforce before the rule expires at the end of this year, as part of what the minister called a “gradual return to normality”.

Meloni said the move, which has been criticised by the centre-left as a win for anti-vax campaigners, would mean some 4,000 healthcare workers can return to work.

This includes some 1,579 doctors and dentists refusing vaccination, according to records at the end of October, representing 0.3 percent of all those registered with Italy’s National Federation of the Orders of Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists (Fnomceo) 

Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy party railed against the way Mario Draghi’s government handled the pandemic, when it was the main opposition party, and she promised to use her first cabinet meetings to mark a clear break in policies with her predecessor.