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COVID-19 RULES

EXPLAINED: What changes under Italy’s new Covid decree?

The Italian government has published details of new public health measures brought in to halt soaring infections fuelled by the Omicron variant. Here are the changes coming into force.

Bystanders wait outside a pharmacy to get tested for coronavirus (Covid-19) before Christmas, in Rome, on December 23, 2021.
Italy has reintroduced outdoor mask wearing and health pass requirement in response to the rising Omicron wave. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

This article was updated on December 27th

Italy’s government on Thursday night unanimously approved stricter rules on public gatherings and the use of health passes, with a new decree announced by Health Minister Roberto Speranza.

The decree has brought back the obligation to wear masks outdoors, temporarily banned public events and will also shorten the validity of Italy’s ‘green pass’ Covid health certificate.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Italy makes outdoor mask wearing compulsory

While Speranza did not immediately state when the new rules would come into force, the government’s final decree published on Friday, December 24th (see the full text here in Italian) clarified that some changes were effective immediately as of Saturday and others set to come in during January and February.

Here’s a breakdown of what does (and doesn’t) change under the new decree, and when:

Gatherings and parties

  • No public outdoor events – Outdoor public events and parties have been temporarily banned during the festive season, from December 25th-December 31st, after many local authorities had already chosen to cancel Christmas and New Year’s Eve events in towns and cities across the country.
  • Nightlife – Nightclubs and dance venues will be closed immediately until January 31st.
  • No limits on guests at home – Unlike last year, the decree does not set limits on the number of guests you can have at home for Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day lunch, Boxing Day or New Year’s Eve.

Green pass

  • Extension of green pass rules in bars – Effective from December 25th, the government has extended the ‘reinforced’ or ‘super’ green pass requirement to bars and restaurants – including for bar service. Until now, ordering and consuming food and drinks at the bar has been allowed without any ‘green pass’ restrictions. The changes mean proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 is now required even to drink coffee while standing at the counter.
  • ‘Super’ green pass extension: Meanwhile, from January 10th the reinforced or ‘super’ green pass proving vaccination or recovery will become a requirement in more venues, including museums, gyms and swimming pools, team sports training venues, indoor wellness centres and spas (except for essential care and rehabilitative or therapeutic activities), cultural, social and recreational centres (excluding educational centres for children), theme and amusement parks, gambling halls, bingo halls and casinos.
  • Green pass validity cut to six months – From February 1st, the validity of the ‘green pass’ health certificate is to be cut from nine months to six.

Masks

  • Outdoor mask requirement – After discussions for many weeks, Italy has reintroduced the mandatory wearing of face masks in outdoor spaces, even in the lowest risk ‘white’ zones. The rule change is in force from December 25th until at least January 31st.
  • FFP2 mask requirement – FFP2 face masks, which are more efficient than standard face masks, are required in certain venues including cinemas, theatres, sporting events and on public transport as of December 31st.

Vaccines

  • Booster jabs after four months – From January 10th, booster jabs can be administered four months after the last dose instead of the current five months, confirmed Italy’s pandemic emergency commissioner on Monday.
  • No vaccine mandate extension – The government had also discussed the possibility of extending the vaccination mandate to more state employees but this change was not approved. A vaccine obligation was extended to teachers, police and emergency services workers on December 15th and has applied to all healthcare workers since April.

Travel

  • Random testing – The government hasn’t made many changes to travel – just one minor move to contain the spread of the virus in Italy. Anyone entering the country for tourism, work or any other reason may be asked to undergo random antigenic or molecular tests, with controls to be stepped up at ports, airports, stations and borders. In the case of a positive result, travellers will be placed in temporary isolation for a period of ten days. Anyone who tests positive and has no suitable accommodation can be required to stay in a Covid hotel at their own expense, according to the final decree text published on December 24th.

See the latest news and updates from The Local on Italy’s current Covid-19 health measures and travel restrictions.

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. I was talking about what I learned in this article, and I really looked foolish, because the Green Pass information here is totally backward. The reduction in Green Pass validity *starts* on Feb. 1. (see https://www.dgc.gov.it/web/). Now, I believe in verifying information, but shouldn’t I be able to count on getting correct, crucial information from The Local?

    1. Hi Ben,

      The original version of this article stated repeatedly that the Italian government had not, at the time of writing, announced when the new measures would come in and that this was as yet unknown. So we’re not sure what incorrect information you’re referring to here.

      The timing of the introduction of each change was not mentioned in the initial announcement, and only confirmed when the final decree text was published on December 24th. We have since updated the article with the new information.

      1. Hi Clare,

        Perhaps I had the misfortune of reading an interim version of the article with some combination of edits that produced the incorrect information.

        Here is how the article read when I saw it (the update as of 24 December 2021 11:05 CET; I can send you the PDF if you’d like to examine it):

        Here’s a breakdown of the changes, expected to be applied in the next few days and will cover the period until January 31st.

        Gatherings and parties

        Green pass
        • Temporary extension of green pass rules in bars
        • Green pass validity cut to six months – The validity of the ‘green pass’ health certificate is to be cut from nine months to six, and the reinforced or ‘super’ green pass proving vaccination or recovery will become a requirement in more venues, including museums, gyms and swimming pools, team sports training venues, indoor wellness centres and spas (except for essential care and rehabilitative or therapeutic activities), cultural, social and recreational centres (excluding educational centres for children), theme and amusement parks, gambling halls, bingo halls and casinos.

        Does that make my confusion more clear?

        Thank you for correcting the article later. I appreciate the Local’s service, but I hope you can understand why this was a disappointing moment.

        1. The comments editor saw my “snips” as html tags and cut them out, but consider the ellipses to indicate cuts I made for brevity’s sake:

          Gatherings and parties
          … 
          Green pass
          • Temporary extension of green pass rules in bars … 

  2. So the Green Pass expires six months after a. your last vax or b. feb 1? And then what? more shots, new pass, change of vax status? I’m old and so is my vax. What know?

  3. So I am still a bit confused. I received my booster (3rd dose) in December and my wife got her 3rd dose in November.

    Do we need a 4th dose for the summer? Can you even get a 4th dose?

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COVID-19 RULES

What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

Italy is a dream destination for many people, but the spike in Covid-19 cases this summer means visitors could still run into problems. Here is what you need to know.

What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

Italy is full of unique destinations, from beautiful beaches to millennium-old architecture. No wonder the country gets so many visitors every year, especially during the summer months.

However, coronavirus infection rates are increasing in the country. Some regions, including Lazio, where Rome is located, and Veneto, the home of Venice, are classified by the Health Ministry as high risk.

With that in mind, here is what you should know about the pandemic in Italy and what to do in case you test positive.

What are the current entry rules?

First things first: what do you even need to enter Italy? Are there any coronavirus restrictions? The answer is no.

Travel to Italy for any reason, including tourism, is currently allowed without restrictions from all countries. In addition, since June, Italy has scrapped the requirement to show proof of coronavirus vaccination, recent recovery or a negative test from travellers.

There is also no need to fill in any online forms.

What restrictions do exist?

The main Covid-related restriction you will find in Italy is a strict face mask mandate for all forms of public transport, except for flights (domestic and international). These rules should remain in place at least until the end of September.

The masks required are the higher-grade FFP2 masks, and you should wear them on buses, trains, taxis, and all forms of public and shared transport.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

Face masks also remain obligatory in hospitals, care homes and other healthcare facilities.

However, there is no need to wear face masks in public open or indoor public spaces – though it is recommended, especially in crowded areas.

Where can I get tested?

If you want to be on the safe side or have any coronavirus symptoms, it is possible to get tested in Italy.

If you need to get tested while in Italy because you suspect you may have Covid-19, you must minimise your contact with anyone else.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

The Italian health ministry says you should isolate yourself where you’re staying and call a doctor, Italy’s nationwide Covid hotline (1500), or the regional helpline where you are (complete list here) for assistance.

They will help you arrange an emergency test. Do not go to a medical centre or pharmacy in the meantime.

If you do not have symptoms, tests can be carried out without a prescription at Italy’s airports, pharmacies, labs, testing centres, or even at your accommodation via private doctors.

READ ALSO: The essential Italian phrases you need to know for getting tested and vaccinated

Fast antigen tests are also widely available in pharmacies in Italy.

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 in Italy must undergo at least one week of isolation. Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP

What are the self-isolation rules if I test positive?

The health ministry’s current rules state that anyone who tests positive while in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle, or was certified as being recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and also boosted or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

READ ALSO: Italy to keep quarantine rules in place as Covid cases rise

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine to be allowed out. If you keep testing positive after that, you may stop isolation only at the end of 21 days.

Italy has one of the strictest self-isolation rules, so keep that in mind if you plan your summer holidays here.

Where can I self-isolate?

That will depend. You might be able to stay in your existing accommodation but might also be required to transfer to a state hospital or other government-provided accommodation. Check with the local authorities.

Additionally, you may need to fund accommodation – if only to extend your hotel stay, for example.

What if I need treatment?

If you are an EU citizen, your country’s healthcare can cover state treatments. The same if you are a UK citizen and hold an EHIC or GHIC. The e-card, European health card, EHIC or GHIC will not cover private treatments, though.

If you are a third-country citizen, you must check exactly what your travel insurance covers. In general, people travelling to Europe from abroad are recommended to have travel insurance that covers medical treatments, and you might also be insured through a credit or debit card. So, it is worth checking and planning.

Where can I get more information?

The Italian Health Ministry has a Covid-19 hot site in English for travellers where you can find helpful contact and the latest restrictions and information.

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