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COVID-19 RULES

Italy confirms most shops require Covid green pass from February 1st

The Italian government on Friday confirmed the expansion of the health pass requirement from February 1st and agreed on a list of shops and services that will be exempt.

Italy's green pass health certificate
Italy’s 'super green pass' is currently required to enter many venues including hotels and restaurants. Photo: Andreas SOLARO/AFP

Prime Minister Mario Draghi signed a new decree confirming the rules on Friday morning, Sky TG24 reports, after a week of drawn-out discussion between the national government and regional leaders.

Exempt businesses include supermarkets and food shops, pharmacies, opticians, and shops selling fuel and animal food, according to media reports on Friday.

The decree text reportedly states that the exemption applies to shops “related to essential and primary needs”,

This includes “retail shops with a prevalence of food and beverage products, or hypermarkets, supermarkets, food discount stores, mini-markets and other non-specialized food and beverage outlets”

The full text of the decree is yet to be published, and it remains unclear whether tobacconists and newsagents are covered by the exemption. (This article will be updated when more information becomes available.)

From February 1st, those who are not vaccinated or recovered will be able to enter other shops only with a ‘basic’ version of the country’s green pass health certificate, which can be obtained via testing.

Italy currently has a two-tiered green pass system in place, with the basic version of the pass available to those who test negative, alongside the ‘reinforced’ or ‘super’ green pass which proves the bearer is vaccinated against or has recovered from Covid-19.

Passes based on rapid tests are valid for 48 hours, while PCR or molecular test results produce a pass that remains valid for 72 hours.

As of January 20th, the basic version of the pass is already a requirement for entry to hairdressers, barbers, and beauty salons.

The same requirement will apply to public offices, banks and post offices from February 1st.

Calendar: When do Italy’s Covid-19 rules change?

Friday’s decree clarifies that the pass will not be required at police stations when filing complaints, or at shops and services “supplying drugs and medical devices” or to “healthcare services, including veterinary ones, for all purposes of prevention, diagnosis and treatment,” including for carers.

Owners or managers of the shops and offices in question will reportedly be tasked with ensuring compliance, “including with the use of random checks”. Businesses found not to be enforcing green pass requirements can face fines of up to 1,000 euros.

Many other businesses and services in Italy already require the ‘reinforced’ version of the green pass proving vaccination or recovery, including bars, hotels and all forms of public transport, under rules tightened on January 10th.

The requirement is set to remain in place until at least March 31st, which is the current expiry date for Italy’s state of emergency.

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

The rules apply nationwide, regardless of the zone a region is in under Italy’s four-tiered system of risk classifications.

Under the new decree, the Italian government was also expected to “reconsider” the system of white, yellow, orange and red ‘zones’, which has been in place since November 2020.

There have been growing calls for the tiered system to be altered or scrapped altogether as the government’s strategy for dealing with the pandemic relies increasingly on vaccination rather than business closures and lockdown measures.

However there was no mention of any incoming changes to the system as of Friday morning.

President of the Lombardy Region Attilio Fontana on Friday suggested a conference between regional heads ad the government would be held next week instead, adding that the zone system “is a little out of date”

“It was useful at a certain stage and now I think it needs to be modified,” he said. “The virus and its way of expanding are different, and the situation of citizens, who are largely vaccinated, is different. We must try to adapt to the new situation.”

For the moment, the system remains in place with four more regions – Abruzzo, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Piedmont and Sicily – expected to be declared higher-risk ‘orange’ zones from Monday, according to media reports based on the latest weekly health data.

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

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COVID-19 RULES

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.

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