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QUARANTINE

‘It’s a nightmare’: How Italy’s extended quarantine for UK travellers has affected readers

Following the Italian government's last-minute decision to roll on its quarantine requirement for UK arrivals, many readers have contacted The Local to share how the news has impacted their lives and travel plans.

'It's a nightmare': How Italy's extended quarantine for UK travellers has affected readers
(Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Italy’s announcement that it would extend a five-day quarantine for travellers coming from the UK has had major repercussions on people’s plans this summer.

With just one day until it was due to expire, Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced via Facebook on Thursday evening that he’d signed an ordinance to prolong the rule until August 30th.

EXPLAINED: How travel between the UK and Italy has changed

It means that people have had to cancel their holiday plans, postpone seeing loved ones yet again, or lose business, as any hopes of dropping the restriction in Italy’s peak tourist month were dashed.

As I read Speranza’s post, I finally had to admit defeat and accept that those closest to me won’t make my wedding, after pushing it back twice already.

We said that we couldn’t go through this again – we’ve planned and replanned a wedding three times and we’re so far beyond exhausted, we’ve lost all joy for the event.

It was only going to be an intimate gathering anyway, but to not even have your few best friends there to send you off into married life is heartbreaking.

(Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

After two years of not seeing them, I was desperate for that emotional support.

To reach this point, just four weeks from the wedding day, and fall at the final hurdle is too much of a blow to delay it again. For me, there’s no dilemma – just grief for the day we will now never have.

It seems the move has affected many others too, who told The Local they were left angry and upset.

Gemma Tromans from Birmingham told us of her despair at the news, as her wedding date is also set for the end of August. This, too, is her third date and this time, she was sure that her big day on Lake Garda would go ahead.

She described the situation as “a nightmare” and “never-ending”, as she is now looking at a potential fourth date to say ‘I do’.

I feel very annoyed and deflated – the whole situation has just become so exhausting for me and my partner. The stress leading up to this and every other time has been awful for us both,” said Gemma.

READ ALSO: Ask an expert: ‘How can I still have my dream Italian wedding under Covid restrictions?’

She told us she originally had 45 people coming to the event, but each time they were forced to postpone due to restrictions they lost guests, and now have 30 people on the list.

The latest move has left Gemma nervous that the number will decrease again, and she admitted she was “dreading” telling her family and friends they’re looking at delaying it once more.

Not only does she and her partner have the headache of rescheduling, there are cost implications too.

Due to the venue requiring a minimum number of guests, as numbers dwindle, they have to increasingly fork out more to compensate.

She also pointed out that airlines are unlikely to offer refunds, as flights may not be cancelled – it’s on the the traveller to quarantine and travel is still allowed, it’s just much more inconvenient.

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

The terms and conditions will vary from airline to airline, but even though Ryanair allows two flight changes free of charge, Gemma pointed out that you lose the money you paid for baggage allowance each time.

Gemma and I aren’t alone in having our wedding day in Italy ruined for the umpteenth time.

Many other readers have also written to say they will now have to postpone theirs or even cancel altogether, opting to get wed in the UK after all.

Countless other holiday plans have been upended too.

READ ALSO: UK to allow fully vaccinated travellers from Europe to skip quarantine (but not tests)

Travel industry expert Paul Charles tweeted that the decision to extend quarantine is “Italy’s loss”, as many British holidaymakers opt for other destinations.

While some travellers have already decided to book elsewhere, others told The Local their holiday plans are “ruined” following the news, and are worried about how they’ll get their money back now that they can’t make it to Italy.

Mark Taylor said his break in August was booked for six days, making it unfeasible now that five of those would have to be spent in isolation – and with children.

Some haven’t had to make a call, as travel operators have taken the decision to cancel holidays to Italy.

Steve Morrow told us TUI cancelled his holiday to Sicily for the end of September, which they’d already postponed from last year due to restrictions.

He described the company’s decision as “hasty” and said he’s still waiting for a full refund from the first postponed holiday.

TUI announced that it was cancelling holidays, including flight-only and accommodation-only bookings, to Sardinia, Sicily and Calabria due to depart on or before October 31st. Other holidays to Italian lakes and mountains destinations have also been cancelled by the provider.

Many others expressed their dismay at the last-minute nature of the decision, with several people describing it as “shambolic”.

Sarah, who lives in the UK, tells us she’s been to Italy 30 times and that getting back here is the only thing that’s kept her going through lockdown.

She said: “It feels like the end of the world having that taken away.”

It’s not just British visitors affected. Emma Raymond is based in Bologna and hasn’t been back to the UK in two years. She said last night’s decision has meant she’s had to cancel her trip back to the UK, as she couldn’t afford the quarantine on returning to Italy.

Seema, who also lives in Italy, said she would miss out on a long-awaited visit from loved ones in the UK.

Others based in Italy said their businesses here have suffered, like this accommodation owner in Tuscany.

Some travellers are making the trip regardless.

People with property in Italy have told us that they’ll still travel as they need to make repairs and do maintenance work on their second home.

EXPLAINED: How should travellers from the UK quarantine in Italy?

Meanwhile others said they would wait for another opportunity – but not until after the summer.

If you’re looking to travel between Italy and the UK, you can find the updated rules for travel to both countries here.

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.

Member comments

  1. Absolutely gutted as we were due to go next month as we do every year. What are the chances of a U-turn?

  2. Our annual trip to Positano cancelled for a second year in a row. This year was husband’s 50th birthday, on top of it. Had a special room booked, magnificent dinner…all dashed. This has simply got to end.

  3. Same as most I guess, our headache has been postponement of wedding due in May last year and now August this. Wedding companies/caterers etc have been really good to postpone but kind of takes away the excitement. Such a tricky one for all. Needs to be some clarity but I fear with non EU status that makes it harder. We can but hope this situation changes soon.

    1. Yet another consequence of Brexit, as you point out. Not one good thing has come out of it for those of us who are resident in Italy.

  4. I full well understand that disappointment of cancelled and postponed travel, but the truth is that Covid does not follow rules and public health far outweighs convenience.

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For members

COVID-19 RULES

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

Italy is a dream destination for many people, but the spike in Covid-19 cases this summer means visitors could still run into problems. Here is what you need to know.

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

Italy is full of unique destinations, from beautiful beaches to millennium-old architecture. No wonder the country gets so many visitors every year, especially during the summer months.

However, coronavirus infection rates are increasing in the country. Some regions, including Lazio, where Rome is located, and Veneto, the home of Venice, are classified by the Health Ministry as high risk.

With that in mind, here is what you should know about the pandemic in Italy and what to do in case you test positive.

What are the current entry rules?

First things first: what do you even need to enter Italy? Are there any coronavirus restrictions? The answer is no.

Travel to Italy for any reason, including tourism, is currently allowed without restrictions from all countries. In addition, since June, Italy has scrapped the requirement to show proof of coronavirus vaccination, recent recovery or a negative test from travellers.

There is also no need to fill in any online forms.

What restrictions do exist?

The main Covid-related restriction you will find in Italy is a strict face mask mandate for all forms of public transport, except for flights (domestic and international). These rules should remain in place at least until the end of September.

The masks required are the higher-grade FFP2 masks, and you should wear them on buses, trains, taxis, and all forms of public and shared transport.

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

Face masks also remain obligatory in hospitals, care homes and other healthcare facilities.

However, there is no need to wear face masks in public open or indoor public spaces – though it is recommended, especially in crowded areas.

Where can I get tested?

If you want to be on the safe side or have any coronavirus symptoms, it is possible to get tested in Italy.

If you need to get tested while in Italy because you suspect you may have Covid-19, you must minimise your contact with anyone else.

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

The Italian health ministry says you should isolate yourself where you’re staying and call a doctor, Italy’s nationwide Covid hotline (1500), or the regional helpline where you are (complete list here) for assistance.

They will help you arrange an emergency test. Do not go to a medical centre or pharmacy in the meantime.

If you do not have symptoms, tests can be carried out without a prescription at Italy’s airports, pharmacies, labs, testing centres, or even at your accommodation via private doctors.

READ ALSO: The essential Italian phrases you need to know for getting tested and vaccinated

Fast antigen tests are also widely available in pharmacies in Italy.

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 in Italy must undergo at least one week of isolation. Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP

What are the self-isolation rules if I test positive?

The health ministry’s current rules state that anyone who tests positive while in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle, or was certified as being recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and also boosted or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

READ ALSO: Italy to keep quarantine rules in place as Covid cases rise

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine to be allowed out. If you keep testing positive after that, you may stop isolation only at the end of 21 days.

Italy has one of the strictest self-isolation rules, so keep that in mind if you plan your summer holidays here.

Where can I self-isolate?

That will depend. You might be able to stay in your existing accommodation but might also be required to transfer to a state hospital or other government-provided accommodation. Check with the local authorities.

Additionally, you may need to fund accommodation – if only to extend your hotel stay, for example.

What if I need treatment?

If you are an EU citizen, your country’s healthcare can cover state treatments. The same if you are a UK citizen and hold an EHIC or GHIC. The e-card, European health card, EHIC or GHIC will not cover private treatments, though.

If you are a third-country citizen, you must check exactly what your travel insurance covers. In general, people travelling to Europe from abroad are recommended to have travel insurance that covers medical treatments, and you might also be insured through a credit or debit card. So, it is worth checking and planning.

Where can I get more information?

The Italian Health Ministry has a Covid-19 hot site in English for travellers where you can find helpful contact and the latest restrictions and information.

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