EXPLAINED: Will Italy be on the UK’s ‘green list’ from next week?

As pressure mounts on the UK government to ease travel restrictions from 'amber list' countries, we look at how likely it is that Italy will move onto the 'green list' next week and what that would mean for travellers.

EXPLAINED: Will Italy be on the UK’s 'green list' from next week?
(Photo by Ben FATHERS / AFP)

With the peak summer holiday season fast approaching, the UK government is shortly due to review its traffic light system for international travel, with Italy and France among the destinations speculated to move into the lowest-risk ‘green list’ category.

Following the last review on June 3rd, the next announcement was expected on June 24th as the government planned to release changes every three weeks. However, UK authorities said the next review will now be on Monday June 28th.

With just days to go until the official announcement, how likely is it that Italy will make the cut?


How the UK government decides who makes the green list

When deciding which lis to put countries on, the British government takes into account the percentage of the population vaccinated, the rate of infection, the prevalence of variants of concern and the reliability of a country’s scientific data and genomic sequencing.

This system was introduced in May to restart international travel, with different parameters and measures set, classifying destinations as red, amber or green.

British authorities stressed that people should only be booking holidays to places on the ‘green list’, but only 12 made the final count, including Australia, the Falkland Islands and New Zealand.

Portugal was subsequently dropped from the lowest-risk green category and moved to ‘amber’ due to the country’s worsening health situation, leaving only 11 on the UK’s ‘green list’.

EXPLAINED: The European countries on England’s ‘amber’ travel list and what that means

The UK’s current ‘green list’. Source:

So are Italy’s data looking good enough to go green?

It’s unlikely that the UK government will be lenient when drawing up the new lists, as a government source told The Guardian, “My sense is that we’ll continue to be very cautious in thinking about how we take any steps that could increase transmission.”

But industry professionals have argued that some countries, including Italy, warrant being moved onto the UK’s ‘green list’.

Travel expert Paul Charles said that 10 countries, including Italy, justify being moved to the lowest-risk status based on vaccination rates and declining infection numbers.

He added, “The traffic light system is shot to pieces at the moment, because of the way they treated Portugal two weeks ago. They’ve either got to reinvigorate it or outline how they’re going to enable fully jabbed citizens to travel with more freedom when returning from Amber zones.”

The graph below shows how these countries stack up in terms of their vaccine rollout, based on at least one dose, compared to the United Kingdom and European Union average.

Italy’s health situation is improving, and almost all of the country is under light restrictions in the lowest-risk ‘white zone’ category, bar the region of Valle d’Aosta, -which is the only area to remain in the low-risk ‘yellow zone’.

The country has been reporting around 2,000 new daily infections on average nationwide since June 7th – the lowest figures seen since September 2020.

According to the latest weekly health data, the national average Rt reproduction number, which shows the rate of new infections, was steady at 0.69 (it was 0.68 the week before).

Italy’s national average 7-day incidence rate had fallen to 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, from 25 the week previously.

Regional authorities have also dropped most of the remaining coronavirus restrictions earlier than planned under the national roadmap for reopening as a result of the latest health data.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: How much is the Delta variant spreading in Italy?

And the vaccination rollout continues to gather pace too, with some 46.6 million shots administered and over 16 million people fully vaccinated, making up almost 30 percent of the population over 12 years old, according to the latest figures.

But concern over the so-called Delta variant might prevent the UK government from downgrading Italy from its ‘amber’ status.

Although the Higher Health Institute has estimated the variant, which originally originated in India, only accounts for around 1 percent of the country’s total cases, further data has suggested that the real figure could be as high as 26 percent, making Italy the fifth-highest in the world for the prevalence of this strain.

If Italy makes the green list, what are the rules?

Should Italy qualify for green status, it isn’t business as usual in the pre-Covid sense.

There’s still protocol to follow, but thankfully for travellers who may have been put off by lengthy quarantines, there’s no requirement to isolate on arrival.

However, some testing remains in place. You have to take a Covid-19 test on or before day two after you arrive, with children aged 4 and under being exempt.

Quarantine only applies if the test result is positive. Alternatively, you must quarantine if the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) informs you that you’ve travelled to England with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

(Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

What will happen if Italy stays on the amber list?

If UK authorities deem Italy’s health data isn’t favourable and the country stays ‘amber’, there could still be changes.

The current rules for arrival in the UK from an ‘amber’ country include the need to quarantine for 10 days and take a pre-departure test, as well as a PCR test on day two and day eight. You can also take an additional test on day five to end self-isolation early.

EXPLAINED: How has Italy changed its rules on travel from the UK?

Will the rules change for vaccinated travellers?

The British government is “working on” plans to drop the quarantine from amber countries if travellers are fully vaccinated.

The UK health secretary, Matt Hancock, said in an interview with ITV news that ministers are looking at how to scrap the 10-day quarantine on return from an amber list destination.

“We are working on what extra freedoms people can have when they are double vaccinated but we’re not there yet,” he said.

Reader question: What Covid-19 tests do I need for travel between Italy and the UK?

At this stage, there is no detail to the plan, and when asked if the system would be in place by the beginning of August, he said: “We’ll get there when it’s safe to do so.”

It was not clear from Hancock’s statement whether the rule change would also apply to people who had been vaccinated outside of the UK, as he was talking about British travellers returning from abroad.

From July 1st, the EU ‘green pass’ scheme will mean those fully vaccinated in Italy can travel freely around the EU and Schengen zone by using their vaccine passport.

No longer a member of the EU, however, the UK will not benefit from this.

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).

Please note The Local is unable to give advice on individual cases.

Member comments

  1. I don’t get it, UK have had a terrible time with Delta but they had taken the EU countries off the green list. Has it occurred to them that may be Italy doesn’t want to be on their green list at the moment?

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OPINION: Why Italy should let the rich pay for ‘private moments’ at tourist hotspots

Instead of criticizing actor Jason Momoa over his VIP visit to the Sistine Chapel, Italy should encourage wealthy visitors to pay large sums for such experiences, says Silvia Marchetti.

OPINION: Why Italy should let the rich pay for ‘private moments’ at tourist hotspots

Signing a generous cheque in order to enjoy a private, exclusive moment – without crowds – at the Colosseum, the Pantheon, or sitting on the Spanish Steps should not be seen as scandalous nor outrageous.

Imagine taking in the view of the Trevi Fountain at sunset, by yourself in a deserted Rome, after having splashed out ten or hundreds of thousands of euros, just to see the sun go down and relax for an hour.

READ ALSO: ‘I love Italy’: Jason Momoa apologises over Sistine Chapel photos

The big fuss over American actor Jason Momoa taking pictures of the Sistine Chapel recently during his Roman stay while shooting his next movie has raised eyebrows worldwide and caused much ado about nothing. It even made global headlines.

The main complaint was that the actor had been granted the privilege of taking photos. in spite of the ‘no-photo’ ban, which many said apparently applied only to ‘ordinary people’.

Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is about Momoa’s not-so intimate moment in the Sistine Chapel.

We Italians tend to look down on tourists who are constantly grabbing their camera to take pictures. We consider our artistic heritage untouchable, or in a way, non-reproducible through photography. 

But Momoa was not committing a crime. 

He later apologized, and explained that he had paid for an exclusive “private moment” by giving the Vatican Museums a large donation.

I think this is something positive: a ‘mechanism’ that could be exploited to raise cash for city coffers and urban projects – instead of raising local taxes that weigh on Italian families.

Rome, and all other Italian cities, should rent out such locations for events – even for just one night, or one hour – in exchange for a high fee.

The rich and famous would be more than happy to pay for such an opportunity to enjoy Italy’s grandeur. As would ordinary people who may decide they can afford it for a special occasion.

These are solo, one-in-a-lifetime experiences in top sites, and must be adequately paid for. 

Rome’s Colosseum in February 2021. Lower visitor numbers amid the Covid-19 pandemic meant Italian residents were able to see the country’s major attractions without the crowds. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

Italy is packed with historical, artistic and archeological gems that the entire world envies, people flock here just for a selfie in front of the Looming Tower of Pisa.

So why not make a leap forward and raise the bar for ‘private moments’; something Momoa, despite the unknown sum of money he paid, did not even actually get.

I’m not suggesting Italian cities lease monuments for weeks or months, for they belong to all humanity and everyone has a right to enjoy them. But allowing exclusive, short private experiences at Pompeii, or Verona’s arena, or just time to stare at Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus or Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement, should be seen as a source of extra revenue, not a taboo.

Italy should economically exploit its infinite artistic treasures as a powerful money maker, unleashing the full potential of it. 

If offered the chance, I think Elon Musk would not mind paying hundreds of thousands of euros, or even millions, for a private corporate cocktail party at the Colosseum.

OPINION: Italy must update its image if it wants a new kind of tourism

Of course, you’d need rules: a strict contract with specific clauses in case of damage or guest misbehavior; a detailed price list; and surveillance to safeguard the site during the private event. And extremely high fines if any clause is breached.

It’s a matter of looking at a city from a business and marketing perspective, not just a touristic one.

Today you can already take a private tour of the Vatican Museums for a higher ticket price, but it’s mostly for groups of 10 people, and there’s always a guide with you. You’re never really ‘still’ in your favorite room, so forget having a completely ‘private moment’.  

Taking photos inside the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel is usually forbidden, except for members of the media with special permission and, apparently, celebrities. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

One model city to take as reference is Florence, which in the past few years has done a good job of promoting the city brand.

The mayor’s office has set up a special committee that rents out Renaissance piazzas for private wedding celebrations and birthday parties, as well as several key historical spots like the Giardino delle Rose, and Palazzo Vecchio, the historical headquarters of the town hall.

There is an online menu with all the locations available for weddings and other private events, depending on the number of guests and type of celebration. 

Those interested should contact the town hall’s special ‘wedding task force’ if they want to book frescoed rooms in ancient palazzos or other buildings owned by local authorities. Last time I enquired, some elegant rooms are available to hire for as little as €5,000.

Would you pay big money to have major attractions, such as Rome’s Colosseum, all to yourself? Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Venice, too, has attempted to raise cash by renting the façades of public buildings overlooking the Canal Grande to global fashion brands for advertisements, but the move raised eyebrows among locals. 

Even in Florence, residents weren’t so pleased to see huge, lavish billionaire Indian weddings celebrated in front of their palazzi, blocking access to their homes.

Italians need to reset their mentality. If anyone is willing to pay big money to enjoy the solo thrill of a site or location, we should be more than happy to allow it. 

As a result, we might end up paying lower city taxes for waste removal, water and other services. Every day, for free, we share the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona with masses of noisy, coin-throwing, gelato-slurping tourists; why not occasionally accept a generous donation from a VIP or philanthropist eager to pay for a moment alone in the company of Bramante and Brunelleschi? 

We would only be helping our cities to maintain their artistic heritage, which fills us with pride.