72 or 48 hours? How Italy has updated the rules on testing to obtain the Covid green pass

72 or 48 hours? How Italy has updated the rules on testing to obtain the Covid green pass
Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP
The Italian government has made several changes to its health certificate scheme - the so-called green pass - ahead of it becoming mandatory in all workplaces from October 15th.

The latest green pass decree passed on Tuesday September 21st confirms that, as announced earlier this month, employees at all public or private workplaces will need to be able to show the green pass from October 15th.

The pass is a certificate that shows whether someone has been vaccinated against Covid-19, tested negative in the previous 48 hours, or recently recovered from the virus.

READ ALSO: Italy extends Covid ‘green pass’ requirement to all workplaces

The new decree (find the official text here, in Italian) confirmed that health passes obtained in Italy via a negative PCR test result will now be valid for 72 hours instead of 48.

Those obtained via rapid testing will remain valid for 48 hours, however the new decree also provides for the use of saliva testing as well as nasal swab tests.

While the government’s update was made with people working in Italy in mind ahead of the October rule change, this applies to anyone who is tested in Italy, including foreign visitors. (Find out more about getting a coronavirus test in Italy here.)

The new decree is related to domestic use of the green pass system only and does not update existing rules on testing for travel to Italy.

From October 15th, employees at Italian companies will have to pay for testing themselves if they choose not to be vaccinated.

Those who cannot be vaccinated as they have a certified medical exemption will qualify for free tests, and will not face the green pass requirement in any case.

The decree also confirmed that an existing cap on the price of rapid tests at pharmacies choosing to participate in a government scheme would be extended until December 31st.

Under the price cap, rapid tests cost 15 euros – instead of 22 – for adults and 8 euros for young people aged 12-18. 

The price of PCR testing will remain between 50-100 euros, with the cost mainly depending on prices set by each Italian regional authority.

READ ALSO: Where do you now need to show a Covid green pass in Italy?

A previous decree extended the validity of the green pass for those fully vaccinated from nine months to one year.

Passes issued to those who have recovered from Covid-19 (but are not also vaccinated) remain valid for six months.

The update came following protests from some political parties, notably the right-wing League, who said it was unfair to expect workers to pay for testing every 48 hours.

Some Italian health experts however have criticised the government’s update, with Andrea Crisanti, director of the Department of Molecular Medicine of the University of Padua, describing the green pass requirements as “all politics”.

“Now the law dictates how infectious a virus is or what the incubation period of a disease is. There is no scientific evidence that a test taken 72 hours ago certifies that that person is negative,” said Crisanti in an interview on TV channel LA7.

Find the latest updates in our green pass news section and further details on the official website (currently only available in Italian).

Member comments

  1. Just to clarify – it appears that this rule about Covid green passes based on a negative PCR test being valid for 72 hours and those based on a negative rapid antigen test being valid for 48 hours is different from the rule requiring that people entering Italy from the U.S. and elsewhere have a negative Covid test within 72 hours before arrival in Italy. I believe that for that purpose, both type of tests are still accepted with no difference in time frame. True?

    1. Hi Carol, yes, that’s exactly right – this report refers only to the domestic rules on testing within Italy. There has been no update to the rules covering international travel. Both types of test are indeed accepted for entry, and nothing has changed there. We’ve updated the article to clarify that.

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