As The Local reported earlier in August, the coronavirus infection rate in the United States has now risen well above the threshold for removal from Europe’s travel ‘safe list’ and the figures have caused concern that Italy or the European Union may consider imposing new restrictions on US travellers.
On Monday the European Council updated its ‘safe list’ of countries from which non-essential travel is allowed and, as expected, it did remove the US.
What this means is that the EU now recommends that travel from the US is once again restricted to essential travellers, meaning EU citizens or residents in the EU or essential workers.
However the EU still recommends vaccinated travellers from third countries such as the US are allowed to travel to EU nations, even if that country is not on its safe list.
In other words unvaccinated travellers from the US could face tighter restrictions such as lengthy quarantine or simply not be allowed to travel.
But just because the US was removed from the European Union’s “safe list” this does not automatically mean Italy, or other EU states will tighten travel restrictions for American tourists.
The EU list is non-binding, meaning the last word on whether or not to follow it is down to each individual EU country’s government. Countries can also impose their own restrictions separately.
On Sunday Italy’s health ministry announced that from August 31st it would end the mandatory 5-day quarantine for fully-vaccinated arrivals from the UK.
The same announcement stated that existing rules for other countries would remain in place, without singling out any other countries or going into further detail.
Italy’s government has not stated whether it plans to now change the current restrictions on US travelers following the change to the European travel list,
Italy doesn’t always follow the EU-level recommendations – though after the United States was added to the ‘safe list’ in June, Italian authorities immediately allowed travel to restart for all US visitors who could show proof of vaccination, recovery, or a recent negative test result.
Italy says its travel rules are based on coronavirus infection and vaccination rates in other countries.
Data analysis from Our World In Data shows the seven-day average of Covid-19 cases in the US now stands at around 467 per million people – nearing the UK’s figure of 497 per million. Italy’s rate is 107.
After strict health measures amid the pandemic made most travel from the US to Italy impossible for 16 months, many American travellers are still hoping Italy will continue to allow restriction-free visits for now in the interest of supporting the country’s tourism industry.
But there are no guarantees. While tourism is an important part of Italy’s economy, authorities here have so far been more cautious when it comes to travel restrictions than in some other tourism-reliant southern European nations such as Spain.
Note that the rules are based on which country you travel from, and not on which passport you hold.
The Local will continue to follow updates to the travel restrictions closely. Please check our homepage or travel news section for the most recent reports.
For detailed information about the current rules on travel to Italy from any country, please see the Foreign Ministry’s website (in English).