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Italy extends ‘Covid-free’ flights to Canada, Japan and the UAE

Under a raft of new travel measures that come into force from Sunday, Italy will extend the availability of so-called "Covid-free" flights from more countries.

Italy extends 'Covid-free' flights to Canada, Japan and the UAE
Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

Taking these flights allows passengers to skip quarantine on arrival in Italy, providing they test negative for coronavirus at both ends of the journey.

Such flights are currently only available from the US, but routes will soon be added between Italy and Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates, according to a health ministry ordinance published on Friday.

The cities of Naples and Venice will also be served by such flights, in addition to Rome and Milan.

However the government on Friday has not yet confirmed whether it plans to drop the current restrictions on entering Italy from these countries for non-essential reasons, including for tourism.

READ ALSO: Who can travel to Italy right now?

No further details of flight availability were published at the time of the announcement.

The extension of Covid-tested flights was announced as part of a package of rule changes aimed at enticing tourists from countries with higher vaccinaton rates.

Italy’s health ministry also said it was scrapping quarantine requirements for visitors from the European Union, Britain and Israel who can show that they have tested negative for coronavirus.

How do ‘Covid-tested’ flights work?

The US-Italy flights currently in operation are only open to those with an essential reason for travel.

To be permitted on the flight, passengers must test negative in a rapid antigen test for coronavirus no more than 48 hours before boarding and they must get tested again immediately on arrival.

Those wishing to travel must also fill in a digital location form before boarding, the Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF).

After completion of this document, passengers receive an email with a QR code, which must be given at the check-in desk in order to be allowed on the flight.

Also during check-in, travellers must provide a completed self-declaration form, specific just to these Covid-tested flights, which states why you are entering Italy from abroad.

There’s more paperwork still. Upon landing in Italy, travellers must present another self-declaration form to the police. Again, this relates to Covid-tested flights only.

Who is allowed to travel to Italy from outside Europe right now?

The rules on international travel into and out of Italy vary according to country of origin.

Anyone who enters the country must quarantine for ten days, unless they take a Covid-tested flight.

The restrictions are set to change soon, the government has promised, without giving details of when.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the country wants to allow tourists from the United States, Canada and Japan to visit without quarantine if they have been vaccinated,

While the first step is to vaccinate as many residents of Italy as possible before the summer, Draghi said, he also indicated that Italy would revise its strict rules on entering from overseas. 

Stay up to date with Italy’s travel rules by following The Local’s travel section and checking the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

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

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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