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

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.

72 or 48 hours? How Italy has updated the rules on testing to obtain the Covid green pass
Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

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.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Italian government begins talks on Covid ‘super green pass’

Italy is set to tighten the rules on its health certificate scheme from December as Covid-19 contagion and hospitalisation rates continue to rise.

Employees in Italy must show Covid health passes to access workplaces.
Employees in Italy must show Covid health passes to access workplaces - but are the rules about to get stricter? Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Note: This article is no longer being updated. Please find the latest news here.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will hold a meeting with regional leaders on Monday evening, beginning several days of talks on a new government decree which is expected to be announced by Friday, reports national broadcaster Rai.

As the health situation has worsened across Italy in recent weeks – particularly in the north-eastern regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto and the autonomous province of Bolzano – leaders of local governments are increasingly pushing for new measures, mainly in the form of further restrictions on the unvaccinated under a so-called “super green pass” scheme.

KEY POINTS: Italy’s new plans to contain the Covid fourth wave

Italy began rolling out its health certificate or ‘green pass’ for domestic use in August, initially making it a requirement at many leisure and cultural venues such as cinemas and indoor restaurants, before extending its use to workplaces and some forms of public transport. 

The certificate shows that the bearer has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has recovered from the disease within the last six months, or has tested negative in the last few days.

Instead, the proposed ‘super green pass’ would only be issued to those who are vaccinated or recovered, with passes issued based on testing in future only valid for entry to workplaces.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

While no concrete decisions have yet been made, sources within the health ministry have indicated that it is considering the measure for any region declared a higher-risk ‘orange’ zone.

“Closures and restrictions must not be paid for by the vaccinated,” said Health Undersecretary Andrea Costa, adding that the ‘super green pass’ plan would “guarantee the unvaccinated access to workplaces and basic needs, but certain activities such as going to a restaurant, cinema or theatre should be reserved for the vaccinated if the situation worsens.”

“It is clear that we must bring in new initiatives,” he said in an interview with Sky TG24 on Sunday.

EXPLAINED: Will Italy bring in a Covid lockdown for the unvaccinated?

At the moment all of Italy remains in the lowest-risk ‘white’ zone, with few health measures in place.

However several regions are now nearing the thresholds at which they would be moved into the ‘yellow’ zone next week, and – if the situation continues to worsen – then risk being placed under orange zone restrictions two weeks later.

Costa said a planned third dose obligation for health workers “is already foreseen and I think it will be approved this week.”

Health Minister Roberto Speranza put forward proposals last week to make third doses obligatory for the healthcare staff already subject to a vaccine requirement, and also to cut the validity of Italy’s Covid-19 health certificate – the so-called green pass – from 12 to nine months for people who are vaccinated, including with a third dose.

READ ALSO: Italy to start Covid boosters for over-40s on Monday as infection rate rises

The changes have not yet been formally approved, but are expected to come in from December 1st under the planned new decree set to be signed into law by the end of the week.

Other measures the government is reportedly considering include cutting the validity of green passes based on PCR test results from 72 to 48 hours, and those from the results of rapid testing will be reduced from 48 to 24 hours.

There have also been calls from health experts and regional leaders to stop issuing green passes based on rapid test results altogether, as these are less reliable than the results of a PCR test.