Italy lifts Covid travel ban on arrivals from southern Africa

The Italian government on Friday removed the travel ban in place for eight southern African states, which was imposed in November in response to the spread of the Omicron variant.

Italy has lifted its travel ban on 8 South African countries.
Italy has relaxed its Covid restrictions for international travellers, opening up tourism. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Italy has removed travel restrictions for those who have visited South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland.

The measure had been in place since November 26th and applied to all those who had been in any of these states within the previous fortnight.

The decision to scrap the ban was confirmed by Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza, who signed an ordinance on Friday – when the change also came into force.

“Considering the evolution of the epidemiological situation at national and international level, it is necessary, after consulting the General Directorate for Health Prevention, to stop applying the measures provided for in the aforementioned Order of the Minister of Health of November 26th 2021,” the text reads.

Arrivals from the eight countries however remain subject to tight entry restrictions under Italy’s travel ‘list E‘ rules, the health ministry confirmed in a statement.

This means tourism is not allowed and people can only enter the country for the following specific reasons:

  • work
  • health reasons
  • study reasons
  • absolute urgency
  • return to one’s home or residence. 

Arrivals from List E countries are also required to take a PCR or antigen test before travel to Italy and undergo a ten-day isolation period and further testing once in Italy. See full details of the rules here.

See further information about travel to Italy from any country on the Italian government’s ‘Viaggiare Sicuri’ website.

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Reader question: What are Italy’s Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Italy's quarantine rules have changed so many times over the past couple of years, it can be hard to keep track. Here's the latest information on when and how visitors need to self-isolate.

Reader question: What are Italy's Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Question: “One of your recent articles says you can exit quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. But you can also exit quarantine by obtaining a certificate of recovery from Covid-19… true?”

Unfortunately, official proof of having recovered from Covid-19 won’t get you out of the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while visiting Italy – though it can shorten your quarantine period.

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 boosted, or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order 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).

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

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 in order to be allowed out.

Read more about getting tested while in Italy in a separate article here.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter its borders, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/ have recently recovered from Covid.

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

Some countries (including the US), however, do require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure – which means visitors at the tail end of their journey could be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

It’s because of this rule that a number of The Local’s readers told us they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer, and intend to postpone for another year.

If you are planning on visiting Italy from a country that requires you to test negative for Covid prior to re-entry, it’s a good idea to consider what you would do and where you would go in the unlikely event you unexpectedly test positive.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

You can keep up with the latest updates via our homepage or Italian travel news section.