Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Thursday that, from July 19th, people visiting amber list countries including Italy would no longer have to quarantine on arrival back in England, as long as they were fully vaccinated.
However this exemption is not extended to the majority of UK nationals who live in Italy.
They will still have to quarantine when visiting friends or family in the UK, even if they are fully vaccinated.
Shapps said the exemption was for “residents returning to England”.
TRAVEL UPDATE: From MONDAY 19 JULY 4am #British fully vaccinated adults will not need to isolate from amber list countries 🚦 including those on clinical trials – another step to fully reopening international travel. Children under 18 will not need to self-isolate.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) July 8, 2021
The Department for Transport confirmed to The Local that this exemption is for anyone who was vaccinated in the UK or part of a UK clinical trial on vaccines.
This means that any UK nationals living in Italy who had their jabs in Britain can travel quarantine-free.
However, those vaccinated in Italy will still face a 10-day quarantine if they want to travel to the UK to visit friends and family, as well as needing to pay around £160 for the compulsory travel testing package.
How do Brits in Italy feel about this?
British citizens resident in Italy and other countries reacted with anger and dismay to the news that they would not be exempt from the UK’s quarantine requirement, describing the decision to exclude them as “unfair” and “very hard to understand’.
“I’m just frustrated by all these twists and turns and the rule changes. I haven’t been home in two years, my mum and aunt are elderly, my godmother is very sick with cancer, but I am constantly trapped in this heart versus head decision,” said Emma Raymond in Bologna.
“It’s been the hardest year and this is just awful. I’ve played by every rule, I’ve been vaxxed. But it doesn’t seem to make a difference.”
People who the UK will let in without quarantining:
1) Italians who want to watch football.
2) Brits returning from a fortnight in Shagaluf.
People the UK refuses to admit w/o quarantine:
1) Fully vaccinated Brits living in the EU who haven’t seen their families for a year.
— James Savage (@SavLocal) July 8, 2021
Some pointed out that they were reluctant to travel home due to the costs and the rising infection rate in England.
“To be honest, I don’t feel England has the pandemic under control either with rising numbers and large crowds gathering without masks which makes me even more anxious,” said Freya in Rome, who has not been back to the UK for two years.
“Whilst I’m desperate to see my family, in September my sister is getting married, it has to be safer, cheaper and without the heavy quarantine period.”
There was added frustration for British nationals in Italy following the news on Wednesday that UK authorities had also agreed to let up to 1,000 football fans travel quarantine-free from Italy to London for Sunday’s Euro 2020 final.
“This is so unfair, I am waiting to be able to go and see my family who I haven’t seen in over 18 months without quarantining, but they’re letting football fans in – what a joke,” said reader Stacey Incardona on Facebook.
What are Italy’s rules on travel from the UK?
As of June 21st, Italy requires arrivals from the UK to quarantine for five days on arrival and show two negative coronavirus test results.
People who were vaccinated in Italy can travel anywhere within the EU or Schengen zone using the EU digital vaccine passport.
The UK is not currently part of the scheme, but talks are ongoing to allow mutual recognition of vaccine passports between the EU and the UK.
A European Commission source told The Local: “When it comes to the UK, the talks are ongoing at the technical level and are progressing well and going in the right direction. This is in particular because technically speaking the EU’s and the UK’s architectures are aligned.”
Italy meanwhile is already allowing travellers from the US, Canada and Japan to enter the country under the terms of the EU digital passport scheme.