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SARDINIA

Sardinia considers requiring Covid tests for tourists as Italian island’s infections soar

With new coronavirus outbreaks pushing Sardinia to reimpose local restrictions, health experts have urged the Italian island to resume testing inbound travellers during the peak holiday season.

Sardinia considers requiring Covid tests for tourists as Italian island’s infections soar
Beachgoers in Sardinia, one of Italy's most popular summer destinations. Photo: Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Sardinia’s regional authorities are reportedly planning to issue a new ordinance that will make coronavirus tests mandatory once more at the island’s airports and ferry terminals, after the neighbouring island of Sicily introduced testing for travellers from certain high-risk EU countries and as the national government considers requiring a Covid-19 ‘green pass’ for travel and events nationwide

The requirement would be separate to Italy’s national travel rules that allow people from the European Union and certain other countries to enter freely if they have been vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19 or tested negative shortly before their departure, and would mean that travellers face a test on arrival even if they have an EU ‘green pass’ or equivalent.

Multiple local outbreaks have pushed Sardinia’s incidence rate to the highest in Italy, according to early figures from the national weekly health report, which is due to be published in full later on Friday. 

READ ALSO: Four regions in Italy at risk of new restrictions as coronavirus cases rise

Over the seven days to July 11th, Sardinia recorded 33.2 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to a preview of the data published by news agency Ansa. Only one other region had an incidence rate over 30: Sicily with 31.8.

Sicily, which like Sardinia is a popular summer destination for both domestic and international tourists, has already made Covid tests compulsory for travellers arriving from Spain, Portugal or Malta.

“It would be wise to reinstate checks for people arriving in Sardinia from overseas,” the leaders of the island’s association of doctors said in a joint statement quoted by La Stampa. “Carrying out a molecular swab after arrival would be an important step that could help identify possible cases of the Delta variant and other less-known strains that are circulating.”

Another wave of coronavirus infections, like the one seen on Sardinia last summer, would be devastating for the island’s economy after months of restrictions and closures, the doctors warned.

Sardinia has made coronavirus test compulsory for arriving passengers at various points over the past 18 months. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Sardinia is one of six parts of Italy where the transmission number (Rt) has climbed above 1, along with Abruzzo, Campania, Liguria, Veneto and the autonomous province of Bolzano.

Since dropping most Covid restrictions in May, the island has seen daily new infections rise from the single figures in late June to more than 100 for the past two days.

At the same time deaths have remained close to zero, with only two total in the past week. Currently 42 Covid-19 patients are in hospital in Sardinia and three are in intensive care, according to the latest daily figures.

Most of the new cases have been reported around Cagliari, in the south of the island, and Sassari in the north-west. Local clusters have prompted at least two towns – Serrenti near Cagliari and Usini near Sassari – to reimpose curfew and other restrictions, closing bars and restaurants at 11pm and cancelling concerts and parties, even outdoors.

READ ALSO: 

At least four other regions of Italy are understood to be at risk of returning to tougher Covid restrictions as infection rates rise, fuelled by the spread of the highly transmissable Delta variant.

This week’s figures indicate that 19 of Italy’s regions and autonomous provinces are now in the moderate risk category, with only Valle D’Aosta and the province of Trento classed low risk.

No parts of Italy have yet crossed the threshold that would trigger a return to “yellow zone” restrictions, however, with admissions to hospital and intensive care units remaining low.

With the Delta variant spreading chiefly among unvaccinated people, the Italian government is understood to be considering expanding the use of the EU Covid-19 health pass, currently required chiefly for international travel, to train journeys and flights within Italy too.

At the moment the certificate – which you can claim after getting vaccinated, testing negative for coronavirus or recovering from Covid-19 – is only required to avoid quarantine upon arrival in Italy, to visit care homes or attend certain large events.

Member comments

  1. “…with admissions to hospitals and ICUs remaining low.” EXACTLY. From the very beginning of this nightmare, it was always about overwhelming hospitals. If the hospitalization rate remains low, then why return to house arrest status? It will be the last nail in the coffin for so many businesses and for Italy’s economy which is already in ICU.

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VENICE

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

Venice is introducing a new system to discourage day-trippers in hopes of curbing problems with overtourism in the popular hotspot. Here is what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

After years of discussing a possible “tourist tax”, the city of Venice has confirmed it will make day-trippers pay from €3 to €10 for access to the city centre starting on January 16th.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the goal of the new tourism fee is to discourage day tourism at certain times of the year and encourage overnight tourism. Day-trippers will have to pay a fee, but those who stay overnight continue only to have to pay the city tax of €2 to €5, according to a government press release.

The Commission and the City Council will now examine the regulatory text for the final green light scheduled for the summer.

“We are the first in the world to introduce this system, and we are aware that not everything will work well from the beginning, but we will be ready to improve in the course of work. We want to guarantee the tourist the best quality of the visit and make sure that the city is able to give visitors all the services they need”, said Tourism Secretary Simone Venturini.

READ ALSO: After flooding and coronavirus, is it time Venice stopped relying on tourism?

How much will I have to pay?

The contributo di acesso, or access contribution, will cost from €3 to €10, depending on factors such as tourism numbers for the day and season.

The city will determine a certain threshold of tourists, after which people will be required to pay higher sums. Travellers are encouraged to book in advance to avoid price increases.

Does the payment have to be made in advance?

The government said that nobody would be denied entry to Venice, meaning a pre-registration is not necessary. However, the mayor said that those who book their visit in advance would be “rewarded”. The reward will likely discount the fee.

How will the system work? Where do I pay?

According to the City of Venice, the payment is an alternative to the city tax. It will be required from every person that goes to the old city centre of Venice, as well as other major tourist destinations and islands in the region.

READ ALSO: 16 surprising facts about Venice to mark 16 centuries of the lagoon city

A single payment guarantees access to the old town and the smaller islands.

Tourists will be able to pay through an online and “multilingual” platform where they will receive a QR code to present in case of controls. Tickets should also be available to buy in connection with public transport – so if you are arriving by train, it will be possible to buy the train ticket and the entry pass together.

Who is excluded or exempt from the payment?

There are several exceptions to the payment, according to the website. Among them are residents from the Comune di Venezia, those who work or study there, and those who own homes in the city.

Additionally, exceptions include those born in the Comune di Venezia, children under six years of age, people with disabilities and their accompanying person, public workers, volunteers, people visiting family members, prisoners, or attending funerals, and many others.

Residents of the Veneto region “up to the thresholds that will be set by a specific Council resolution” are also exempt.

Those who stay overnight and, therefore, already pay the city tax through their hotel or short-term rental booking are also exempt from the fee.

The city of Murano, in the metropolitan region of Venice (Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash)

What about people arriving on cruises?

Venice is a very popular stop for cruise ships and people visiting the city on a cruise tour will also have to pay the fee as they disembark in the old town. However, the City of Venice said they might determine a lump-sum measure in agreement with the relevant carriers.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why more of Italy’s top destinations must limit tourist numbers

Which smaller islands are included?

Only one ticket and payment is required for those travelling to multiple islands, including Venice. The islands that are part of the group are:

  • Lido di Venezia
  • Pellestrina
  • Murano
  • Burano
  • Torcello
  • Sant’Erasmo
  • Mazzorbo
  • Mazzorbetto
  • Vignole
  • S. Andrea
  • La certosa
  • S. Servolo
  • S. Clemente
  • Poveglia

What if I simply don’t pay?

If you fail to produce proof of payment or that you are exempt from the fee, the sanction is from €50 to €300. The fine is the same in the case of people making false statements trying to obtain exemptions or reductions.

Additionally, visitors who don’t pay in advance will have to pay the full €10 fee.

For more info click here.

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