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TRAVEL: Italy brings back Covid testing requirement for all EU arrivals

Italy on Tuesday extended its state of emergency until March and tightened travel restrictions for arrivals from other countries within the European Union.

Passengers at Rome's Fiumicino airport.
Rules for travel to Italy from within the EU are to change. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

All travellers to Italy from other EU countries must take a coronavirus test before departure and unvaccinated arrivals must quarantine for five days, according to a new ordinance signed by the Italian health minister on Tuesday night.

The new rules mean all EU travellers who are double or triple-vaccinated against Covid-19 must now also show a negative test result from within the 24-hour period before departure (for rapid antigen tests, also known as lateral flow or LFTs) or the 48 hours before departure (for PCR tests).

READ ALSO: What will Italy’s Covid restrictions be this Christmas?

Meanwhile, those travelling to Italy who have not completed a full vaccination cycle must take a pre-departure test, undergo a five-day quarantine period on arrival, and then test for release.

Children aged under 12 are not subject to the five-day quarantine rules if they are travelling with adults who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid, reported the Ansa news agency on Wednesday, citing government sources.

The health ministry’s new ordinance extends the provisions made for minors under a previous ordinance issued on October 22nd.

Italy defines a full vaccination cycle as two doses of a jab approved by the European Medicines Agency (Pfizer, Moderna or Astrazeneca) or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Previously, EU arrivals had to show proof of vaccination, recent recovery or a negative test.

The new rules are in effect from Thursday, December 16th until at least January 31st.

READ ALSO: ‘Fit to fly’: Are Covid lateral flow tests valid for travel to Italy?

The change effectively brings rules for people arriving in Italy from within the European Union in line with the existing rules for non-EU arrivals.

For those arriving from the UK and northern Ireland, the Italian health ministry’s ordinance stated that molecular (PCR) tests must now be taken within the 48 hour period before departure and rapid antigen (LFT) tests in the 24 hours before arrival, instead of 48 as was previously the case.

The rules for arrivals in Italy from the UK and northern Ireland otherwise remain unchanged under the new update.

For other non-EU countries on travel list D, including the United States and Canada, the new ordinance effectively extends existing measures and there are no changes.

The ordinance also extends Italy’s ban on travel from eight countries in southern Africa implemented following the detection of the Omicron variant.

The new rules came amid concern about a new wave of coronavirus infections sparked by the spread of the new Omicron variant in Europe.

Early data suggests it can be more resistant to vaccines and is more transmissible than the Delta variant, which currently accounts for the bulk of the world’s coronavirus cases.

The Italian government also approved an extension to the nationwide state of emergency, which will stay in place until March 31st, 2020.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What happens if I test positive for Covid-19 while visiting Italy?

Italy’s state of emergency, which was first introduced on January 31st 2020, gives greater powers to the national government and regions authorities, making it possible for laws to be passed quickly in response to the changing health situation.

The Italian government is relying heavily on increased vaccination coverage, with a target of fully vaccinating 90 percent of the population aged over 12, to avoid introducing a vaccine mandate for the general population.

As part of the drive to increase vaccine coverage, Italy made booster shots available to everyone aged 18 and over from December 1st.

Italian regions will also begin vaccinating children aged 5-11 starting from Wednesday after approval was given last month.

Almost 86 percent of the eligible population over 12 years old has now completed the vaccination cycle in Italy, while some 12.7 million booster shots have been administered so far according to the latest official figures.

For further details about Italy’s current Covid-19 health measures please see the Italian Health Ministry’s website (available in English).

Member comments

  1. We are coming from US on Dec 29th. Our understanding was that we needed to take a PCR test within 72 hours of arrival in Italy.. This article now implies that those getting a PCR TEST coming from everywhere need to have it done within 48hours. Is this correct. Thanks for any help.

  2. I’m travelling from Switzerland to Italy on Dec 26th. God knows where I can get an antigen test on Christmas Day in Graubünden?

    1. I am doing exactly the same thing- driving from Switzerland to Italy on the 26th! I also don’t know where and how to get the rapid antigen test.

    2. Wow, I sympathize. I wonder if your lodging or the local tourist office can get you in touch with the pharmacy that’s open on Christmas and you can find out if they offer antigen testing that day. (In Italy I believe there always has to be a pharmacy open every day but they don’t necessarily do testing). It appears the Zurich airport is 2.5 hours away and could do PCR testing if you went the day before Christmas; it is supposed to send you results within a few hours after the test (or by noon the next day if submitted in the evening). But I would call them to make sure that there’s no exception for Christmas/Christmas eve. Good luck!

  3. Update to those who kindly replied…. So as we can get an immediate result from an antigen test, we can do it at the Apotheke in our local ski resort which is open on 26th…Get the result and set off immediately…
    Try to route via a ski resort and book a test there.

  4. Article above says test must be done before 24/48 hours before departure. Regulations referenced on gov’t websites say 24/48 hours before arrival. Anybody have an answer to this?

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VENICE

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

Venice is introducing a new system to discourage day-trippers in hopes of curbing problems with overtourism in the popular hotspot. Here is what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

After years of discussing a possible “tourist tax”, the city of Venice has confirmed it will make day-trippers pay from €3 to €10 for access to the city centre starting on January 16th.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the goal of the new tourism fee is to discourage day tourism at certain times of the year and encourage overnight tourism. Day-trippers will have to pay a fee, but those who stay overnight continue only to have to pay the city tax of €2 to €5, according to a government press release.

The Commission and the City Council will now examine the regulatory text for the final green light scheduled for the summer.

“We are the first in the world to introduce this system, and we are aware that not everything will work well from the beginning, but we will be ready to improve in the course of work. We want to guarantee the tourist the best quality of the visit and make sure that the city is able to give visitors all the services they need”, said Tourism Secretary Simone Venturini.

READ ALSO: After flooding and coronavirus, is it time Venice stopped relying on tourism?

How much will I have to pay?

The contributo di acesso, or access contribution, will cost from €3 to €10, depending on factors such as tourism numbers for the day and season.

The city will determine a certain threshold of tourists, after which people will be required to pay higher sums. Travellers are encouraged to book in advance to avoid price increases.

Does the payment have to be made in advance?

The government said that nobody would be denied entry to Venice, meaning a pre-registration is not necessary. However, the mayor said that those who book their visit in advance would be “rewarded”. The reward will likely discount the fee.

How will the system work? Where do I pay?

According to the City of Venice, the payment is an alternative to the city tax. It will be required from every person that goes to the old city centre of Venice, as well as other major tourist destinations and islands in the region.

READ ALSO: 16 surprising facts about Venice to mark 16 centuries of the lagoon city

A single payment guarantees access to the old town and the smaller islands.

Tourists will be able to pay through an online and “multilingual” platform where they will receive a QR code to present in case of controls. Tickets should also be available to buy in connection with public transport – so if you are arriving by train, it will be possible to buy the train ticket and the entry pass together.

Who is excluded or exempt from the payment?

There are several exceptions to the payment, according to the website. Among them are residents from the Comune di Venezia, those who work or study there, and those who own homes in the city.

Additionally, exceptions include those born in the Comune di Venezia, children under six years of age, people with disabilities and their accompanying person, public workers, volunteers, people visiting family members, prisoners, or attending funerals, and many others.

Residents of the Veneto region “up to the thresholds that will be set by a specific Council resolution” are also exempt.

Those who stay overnight and, therefore, already pay the city tax through their hotel or short-term rental booking are also exempt from the fee.

The city of Murano, in the metropolitan region of Venice (Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash)

What about people arriving on cruises?

Venice is a very popular stop for cruise ships and people visiting the city on a cruise tour will also have to pay the fee as they disembark in the old town. However, the City of Venice said they might determine a lump-sum measure in agreement with the relevant carriers.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why more of Italy’s top destinations must limit tourist numbers

Which smaller islands are included?

Only one ticket and payment is required for those travelling to multiple islands, including Venice. The islands that are part of the group are:

  • Lido di Venezia
  • Pellestrina
  • Murano
  • Burano
  • Torcello
  • Sant’Erasmo
  • Mazzorbo
  • Mazzorbetto
  • Vignole
  • S. Andrea
  • La certosa
  • S. Servolo
  • S. Clemente
  • Poveglia

What if I simply don’t pay?

If you fail to produce proof of payment or that you are exempt from the fee, the sanction is from €50 to €300. The fine is the same in the case of people making false statements trying to obtain exemptions or reductions.

Additionally, visitors who don’t pay in advance will have to pay the full €10 fee.

For more info click here.

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