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Reader question: How likely is Italy to change its restrictions on travel from the UK?

With Italy set to review its Covid restrictions on travellers from the United Kingdom by July 30th, dozens of readers have contacted The Local to ask whether the existing quarantine and testing rules are likely to be extended or scrapped from that date. Here's what we know so far.

Reader question: How likely is Italy to change its restrictions on travel from the UK?
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Question: Do you know when an announcement will be made about whether the five-day quarantine for visitors from the UK will remain in place after July 30th? Do you think this will be included in the decree announcement this week?

Italy reinstated quarantine and double-testing requirements for all arrivals from the UK (including anyone who has transited there within the past 14 days) on June 21st amid concern about the Delta variant-driven surge in coronavirus cases in Britain.

As Italy is not currently making any exemptions for those who are vaccinated, and with steep fines for anyone found not following the rules, this abrupt change has proven a big problem for many of The Local’s UK-based readers – particularly those who had been planning to visit Italy this summer for shorter periods to attend weddings and other events.

READ ALSO: How should travellers from the UK quarantine in Italy?

Even those who were planning longer trips have had to rethink plans, not least because low demand resulted in airlines slashing the number of flights available on UK-Italy routes.

As well as waiting for the UK to remove Italy from its ‘amber’ travel list, would-be travellers have their hopes pinned on the Italian government’s own planned review of its rules before they’re set to expire on July 30th.

Unfortunately there has been no indication yet from any official sources as to whether the government is likely to extend the measure, change it, or scrap it altogether from that date.

If previous reviews of similar travel rules are anything to go by, it’s unlikely that the government will announce anything until a few days before the July 30th deadline.

Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

The Italian government is currently preparing a new decree containing changes to the country’s health measures, but this appears to cover only domestic restrictions.

Any updates to the international travel rules are usually announced separately via ordinances from the Italian health ministry, often just a few days before the deadline.

What’s likely to happen then?

Unfortunately, with no official indication either way it’s impossible to tell which way things will go when the rules are up for review.

While summer travel and tourism is important to Italy’s economy, authorities here have so far been more cautious when it comes to travel restrictions than some other southern European nations such as Spain.

REVEALED: How strictly is Italy enforcing rules on Covid testing and quarantine for UK arrivals?

Italy still has tight restrictions in place on travel from many non-EU countries. It is allowing entry from all EU and Schengen zone countries using the Europe-wide  ‘green pass’ scheme, and has allowed entry from some non-EU countries under the same terms – namely the US, Canada and Japan.

Italy’s health ministry said it had relaxed the rules for these countries due to their high vaccination rates and lower rate of infections.

This doesn’t sound like positive news for people in the UK, with Italy now entering its own Delta-driven fourth wave with more than 3,000 new cases daily, and contagions rising further in the UK as the English government scraps all precautions within the country.

But there is some hope for those who’ve been fully vaccinated, as talks are reportedly still ongoing between the EU and UK on the mutual recognition of vaccine passports.

Will Italy start recognising the UK’s proof of vaccination via the NHS app?

While there have been no updates on a possible EU-UK agreement for several weeks, France has this week begun to independently recognise proof of vaccination in the UK – triggering speculation that other countries may follow suit.

France is allowing UK visitors who were vaccinated to upload their NHS certificates to the French health pass app – even though this recognition only goes one way, as the UK is not currently recognising France or any other EU countries’ health passes.

Whether or not more countries might start recognising each others’ health passports may depend on whether their apps are able to “communicate” with each other, as much as on international relations.

There has been no word yet from Italian authorities or either the British Embassy in Rome or the Italian Embassy in London as to whether the two countries are working on a bilateral agreement on recognising or using each others’ health passports.

On Monday, the Italian Embassy in London updated its website and posted on social media to stress that the UK’s health pass is not currently recognised in Italy, and vice versa.

“The ‘Covid pass’ contained within the NHS app does not guarantee an exemption from the health rules (fiduciary isolation and testing obligation) for travellers to Italy,” the embassy wrote.

Some travellers may be eligible to skip quarantine in Italy under certain exemptions – see the Italian Foreign Ministry’s official travel website here for more information.

And anyone vaccinated under the NHS can currently return home to the UK after a trip abroad without facing a quarantine period – though people who were vaccinated in Italy would still face quarantine in the UK under current ‘amber’ list rules.

Note that these rules are based on which country you travel from, and not which passport you hold.

The Local will continue to follow the travel restrictions closely. Please check our homepage or travel news section for the most recent reports on any changes to the rules.

For more information about the current coronavirus-related restrictions on travel to Italy please see the Foreign Ministry’s website (in English).

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COVID-19 RULES

At a glance: What are Italy’s Covid-19 rules this autumn?

Italy has very few pandemic-related restrictions left, but there are still some rules you should be aware of.

At a glance: What are Italy's Covid-19 rules this autumn?

After over two years of Covid-related social and health measures, there are currently very few restrictions in place across Italy. 

But, as Italy’s head of state, Sergio Mattarella, warns that “the virus hasn’t been fully defeated yet” and “collective responsibility” is needed, there are still some rules you need to be aware of. 

READ ALSO: Italy eases Covid measures ahead of new government 

Whether you regularly reside in Italy or are simply planning to visit in the coming weeks, here’s a quick overview of Italy’s Covid rules for the autumn. 

Travel to and within Italy

Travel to Italy for any reason, including tourism, is currently allowed from all countries.

As of June 1st, people are no longer required to show proof of Covid vaccination, recent recovery from the virus or a negative molecular or antigen test result in order to enter the country.

That was the last remaining Covid-related rule in place for travellers – the requirement for arrivals to complete an EU digital passenger locator form (dPLF) had been lifted on May 1st.

Masks

The requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (buses, trains, trams, ferries, etc.) lapsed on Friday, September 30th, after outgoing PM Mario Draghi chose not to renew the mandate in question. 

However, Draghi and his cabinet did extend the requirement to wear face masks in all healthcare settings and care homes, with the rule now expected to expire on October 31st. 

It’s worth noting that anyone refusing to comply with face mask rules can still face fines ranging from a minimum of €400 to a maximum of €1000.

READ ALSO: Why are so many Italians still wearing face masks in shops?

Medical staff members walk in a corridor at the Covid-19 intensive care unit of Cremona hospital, in Cremona, northern Italy, on January 11, 2022.

Those in healthcare setting and care homes in Italy must continue to wear masks until at least the end of October. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP.

Though it’s no longer a requirement, the government also continues to advise people to wear masks in all crowded areas, including outdoors.

As for the private sector, all employees working in settings where social distancing is not practicable will be required to wear FFP2 face masks.

The above mandate should expire on October 31st, though a further extension cannot be ruled out at this moment in time.

Green passes

Italy no longer requires people to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a recent negative test result to access indoor settings or public venues.

That means you won’t need to show any form of health certificate in order to eat in a restaurant, visit a museum or use public transport.

However, if you wish to visit a friend or family member in an Italian hospital or care home you will need to produce proof of vaccination or recovery, or the negative result of a molecular or antigen test taken within 48 hours prior to your visit.

READ ALSO: What is Italy’s Covid vaccination plan this autumn?

Proof of vaccination, recent recovery or a negative Covid test is required for those visiting friends or family members in Italian care homes. Photo by Thierry ZOCCOLAN / AFP.

If you’re a foreign national holding a foreign health pass, the Italian government recognises proof of vaccination or recovery issued abroad, provided that it meets certain requirements

For further information on the types of vaccines accepted in Italy, please see the following government memo.

Italian healthcare staff are still required to produce a valid ‘super green pass’ (i.e. the national health pass certifying that the holder has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or has recovered from it) to be able to work.

The above mandate is scheduled to expire on December 31st, with a further extension having already been ruled out by Marcello Gemmato, head of health policy for election winners Brothers of Italy. 

Quarantine rules

Italy still requires anyone who tests positive for coronavirus while in the country to self-isolate, though the minimum isolation period was cut from seven days to five in early September.

In order to exit quarantine, the infected person must be symptomless (with the exception of symptoms relating to loss of taste or smell) for at least two days, and must test negative to a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test at the end of that period.

Quarantine and testing to release is still require for those who test positive for Covid in Italy.

Quarantine and testing to release is still required for those who test positive for Covid in Italy. Photo by Piero Cruciatti / AFP.

Testing should be carried out at a registered pharmacy or testing centre. The results of home tests are not seen as valid for this purpose.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Should the patient continue to test positive, they must remain in isolation until they get a negative test result. However, the maximum length of the self-isolation period has been cut to 14 days, down from 21.

The above isolation requirements apply to everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated against Covid or have recently recovered from it.

Finally, those who come into close contact with an infected person but do not show any symptoms are required to wear an FFP2 face mask both indoors and outdoors for the ten days following the day when the contact occurred.

Other restrictions

Italy no longer has any active restrictions on businesses’ opening times or capacity. However, individual businesses can still set different rules than those enforced at a national level.

Moreover, there are currently no restrictions on travel between regions, though local authorities have the power to impose their own measures at any time.

Italian health authorities continue to advise residents to respect social distancing when possible and wash their hands frequently.

For more information about how Italy’s Covid rules may apply to you, see the Italian health ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

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