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Q&A: Your questions about Italy’s quarantine for UK arrivals answered

Q&A: Your questions about Italy's quarantine for UK arrivals answered
Photo: Stefanie Loos/AFP
As Italy's five-day quarantine rule for travellers from the UK remains in place until at least August 30th, many readers have contacted The Local to clarify what that entails and what to do if you think you're exempt. Here we answer the questions you've asked the most.

For travellers entering Italy from the UK, there’s currently a five-day quarantine and testing in place on arrival until at least August 30th.

The Italian authorities first introduced the travel restrictions back in June following concern over the highly contagious Delta variant, and extended the measure on July 29th just hours before the rule was due to expire. Its not yet known whether the rule is likely to be extended beyond the current expiry date of August 30th.

EXPLAINED: How travel between the UK and Italy has changed

Based on information from the Italian health ministry and other government sources, here are the answers to the questions readers have asked most frequently since the announcement.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Q: How long do I have to quarantine for and when does it start?

A: The official guidance from the Italian Health Ministry states that arrivals must “undergo fiduciary isolation and health surveillance for five days, and undergo an additional molecular or antigenic test at the end of the 5-day isolation period”.

There has been some confusion about whether the day you arrive counts as ‘day one’ or ‘day zero’, and the Health Ministry’s website and ordinances do not specify this.

As you’ll be reporting to the local health office (ASL) in the region of Italy you’re staying in, they will be responsible for telling you exactly when your quarantine period should end, and when you should get tested. Find contact details for local health authorities here.

Q: How do I get tested to end quarantine?

Once your isolation period is up, you can leave isolation in order to get a test. That’s as long as you have not developed any Covid-19 symptoms and unless your local heath authority has instructed you otherwise.

Whether the local health authority will book your test for you or you’ll need to organise your own via a private provider depends on the rules in each Italian region: ask your local area’s health authority (ASL) or the regional Covid helpline for advice.

You must continue avoiding contact with others until you receive confirmation of a negative result.

If you do get symptoms, you should remain in isolation and inform your local health authority.

See more details about getting a coronavirus test in Italy here.

Q: Do children need to get tested to end quarantine too?

A: Children under the age of six don’t need to take a Covid-19 test to be released from quarantine (but they must observe the five-day isolation period in any case).

Q: What about if I go to another country before Italy? Can I skip quarantine if I arrive from Switzerland for instance?

A: Compulsory quarantine applies to anyone who has been on UK territory in the 14 days before arrival in Italy, regardless of nationality. 

That means anywhere in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, or British bases on Cyprus.

So the quarantine for UK arrivals does not apply only if you have been out of the UK territory – including these places listed – for 14 days already.

Q: Can I avoid quarantine if I drive to Italy and pass through other countries without stopping?

A: No. The quarantine applies to all those who have transited through any of the places listed above within the past 14 days – arriving via another EU country doesn’t mean the five-day isolation period no longer applies.

You must quarantine in Italy regardless of whether you enter the country by plane, ferry, train, coach, private car or any other means of transport.

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It’s advisable to check the UK’s official travel advice for any countries you plan to travel through. The requirements may change if you have travelled from, or transited through, a country on Italy’s travel Lists D and E – perhaps even increasing your quarantine period.

Check the Italian government’s online questionnaire (in English) for more details.

Q: I read about some exemptions. How can I prove I don’t need to quarantine?

A: People transiting through Italy in a private vehicle for 36 hours or less do not have to quarantine. You’ll need to check with the local border police for the documentation you may need to prove this.

People travelling for “proven reasons of work, health or emergency” for 120 hours (five days) or less are also exempt, according to the Health Ministry.

In both cases, there is no need to complete testing and isolation – however, some airlines may still require testing as per company policy, so you’ll need to check before travel.

Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE/AFP
The digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF) still needs to be completed in both these instances.
As for proving how you meet the criteria for exemption, very little information is available about this on Italian government websites.

“The final decision on exemptions rests with the Italian border police,” a representative of the Italian embassy in London told The Local.

“It is up to you ultimately whether you consider the journey to be urgent and/or essential and if so, any supporting documentation supporting your case should be supplied.”

There are also exemptions for transport crew, diplomats, business travellers and certain students, depending on how long they plan to stay.

For more information on exemption from quarantine and testing, click here.

Q: I’m fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Does that make me exempt from quarantine?

A: No. There are no exceptions, even for people who have been fully vaccinated against the virus.

“The NHS pass does not exempt you from the 5-day isolation on arrival for those arriving from the UK,” the Italian Embassy in London confirmed.

Once you’re out of quarantine however, you can use the NHS certificate in place of the Italian ‘green pass’.

“The NHS pass from the 6th August will allow the same access (to indoor restaurants, gyms, trade fairs etc) as the European green pass scheme,” the Embassy said, adding that it was valid  “both in digital and paper format. There will be no need for conversion.”

Q: Is the Italian government likely to do a U-turn on this decision and revoke the rules before August 30th?

A: While we may be used to the current UK government backtracking after enforcing various measures. this is more unusual in Italy and has not happened before with Covid travel restrictions. So far, Italy has only lifted previous similar travel restrictions on their expiry date.

While it looks unlikely, the Local will continue to follow updates closely and report on any changes to the rules.

Q: Where should I quarantine when I get to Italy?

A: Travellers from the UK can quarantine anywhere of their choosing – you don’t need to go to a designated ‘Covid hotel’. Your own residence, a second home or holiday rental are all accepted places to self-isolate.

You can also quarantine at a friend’s house, but you should avoid close contact with anyone else living there (unless they are also prepared to observe quarantine).

Hotels are also acceptable places to isolate for the mandatory five days, but they may refuse. Contact the accommodation before booking to find out what its policy is.

Q: Can I spread my quarantine across different accommodation?

A: No. Wherever you decide to quarantine, you should go directly there when you arrive in Italy and settle in for the entire five days: moving from one location to another during your isolation period would be considered a breach of quarantine.

Q: What if I can’t find a place to quarantine?

A: If you are unable to find anywhere suitable to quarantine in Italy or cannot reach your destination safely, the local authorities reserve the right to put you in accommodation of their choosing, such as a designated hotel, at your expense.

Q: Can I use public transport to get to my quarantine accommodation?

A: No. The current rules state that you must not take public transport from the airport or ferry terminal where you arrive in Italy. You’ll need to get to your destination privately, for instance in a rental car or a taxi.

A family member or friend can pick you up, provided that they come in their own car, but advice states that you should limit your contact with them as much as possible.

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

Photo: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP

Q: When I’m in quarantine, can I go out to buy groceries?

A: No. You are not allowed out to go to the shops  or to take out rubbish, so you will make arrangements to stock up on essentials before you arrive or have groceries delivered.

Q: What about if I’m staying with family or a friend? Do they need to quarantine too?

A: No – as long as you avoid contact with anyone else staying in the same property.

Q: Can I leave the property to walk my dog?

A: No. This would be breaking your quarantine. You’ll need to make arrangements to have your dog walked if you are travelling with one.

Q: Will I get checked up on while I’m in quarantine?

A: Local health authorities have the right to telephone or even visit you in person to check that you’re observing quarantine. This is why you’re asked to provide an address and contact number when reporting your arrival.

As for whether they actually will check on you or not, reports across Italy vary: some travellers say they were contacted and others report not hearing from the authorities at all.

Q: Will I be fined if I break quarantine?

A: There are steep penalties for failing to quarantine, including thousand-euro fines. The safest thing is to assume the rules will be enforced and act accordingly.

Q: Will mandatory quarantine for UK arrivals in Italy continue after August?

Although Italy’s testing and quarantine requirements for UK travellers will remain in place until at least August 30th, there are no current indications whether this will continue into September or be dropped entirely.

A decision will depend on the health situation closer to the end of August, with such announcements often made just days or hours before they’re due to be revised.

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.

Find more information about the requirements for travelling between the UK and Italy on the Italian Health Ministry’s website, or via the Italian Embassy in London and British Embassy in Rome


Member comments

  1. Hi, we are based in the UK, but getting married on Sept 4th in Tuscany. We and long with 50 guests are quarantining ahead of the wedding, but our UK based band cannot quarantine. We are assuming that quarantine is extended again.

    I believe they are exempt from quarantine as they are traveling to Italy for work. Has anyone had any experience of a band flying in for a wedding (or another event)? Any idea what is required at the Border?

    Any advice much appeciated

    Thanks
    John & Olivia

  2. I’m planning to drive to Italy from the UK at the beginning of September. I know the rules could change again before then, but if they don’t, does anyone know if this journey will be OK?

    I’ll drive from France to Genoa one morning, take a ferry from there to Palermo (overnight), then from Palermo drive to the east of Sicily, where I’ll take another (quick) ferry and drive to my final destination. The journey is under 48 hours, with one night spent on a ferry. The first time I’ll spend a night on land I’ll have reached my final destination, where I can quarantine for five days if this is still necessary.

    Does anyone know if ferry travel will be permitted in this case? I’ve seen that public transport isn’t, but I don’t know if ferries are included in this. I don’t know how else I can do this journey – I need to get to the south of Italy (Calabria) by car, and a 15 hour drive through Italy in one day isn’t something I can realistically do – also travelling with a dog!

    Any further knowledge or pointers would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

    Sarah

  3. We are taking our motorhome to The heel of Italy in August. I am a bit baffled as to where to put as our contact address for quarantine. Do I have to try to book into a campsite for 5 days or can we keep driving to Puglia where will can stay with our daughter? Do I register with the region we enter in Italy or do we register in Puglia? Very confused 🤔

  4. Hey all.

    I am due to fly from London to Rome soon to go on a cruise from Civitavecchia. I notice that on the PLF form you can choose a cruise ship as your destination. Does this mean, as the cruise ship is leaving Italy within 36 hours of my arrival that i do not have to quarantine? I’m finding this all very difficult and getting anxious.

    1. Hi,

      People transiting through Italy in a private vehicle for 36 hours or less do not have to quarantine. So if you are travelling directly from the airport in Rome to the cruise ship terminal, this shouldn’t be a problem. We’d recommend confirming this with the cruise operator.

      Best wishes,
      – Clare

      1. The cruise line have no idea apparently!

        Trying to call the local COVID helpline for Rome but it’s all in Italian (for obvious reasons) and I can’t get an answer. If anyone can help I’d really appreciate it!

  5. The Italian declaration says that those who transit through the UK are required to quarantine, however, it’s is imprecise. In some cases, ‘transit’ means land-side transit rather than air-side transit (where one connects through LHR, but does not leave airport property). Has anyone been able to find additional information on air-side transit? We’ve got tickets from the US that return through LHR.

    1. Hi,

      The rules apply to anyone who has been on UK territory in the 14 days before arrival in Italy, including in transit and regardless of mode of transport used, so this would appear to include flight transit – although it’s not explicitly stated. We’d recommend checking this with your airline.

      Best wishes,

      – Clare

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