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COVID-19 RULES

How do Italy’s Covid-19 rules change in February?

Several of Italy's rules around Covid-19 vaccine and health certificate requirements and travel restrictions change from February 1st. Here's what to look out for.

People have a coffee on a terrace bar at the Zattere in downtown Venice.
Outdoor dining in Italian restaurants currently requires proof of vaccination or recent recovery from Covid. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

This article was last updated on Tuesday, February 1st.

Italy’s Covid infection rate may have peaked, but that doesn’t mean the government is easing up on health restrictions just yet. In fact, some tightened restrictions are set to come in from Tuesday, February 1st.

Basic ‘green pass’ required in non-essential shops
 
As of Tuesday, customers show a ‘basic’ version of Italy’s green pass to enter banks, post offices, public offices, tobacconists, bookshops, newsagents (except outdoor kiosks) and shopping malls, according to a decree signed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi on January 21st.

The basic version of the pass is already a requirement for entry to hairdressers, barbers, and beauty salons.

These rules are in addition to the existing requirement of a ‘super’ green pass on all forms of public transport, in bars and restaurants, gyms, hotels, cinemas, theatres and sports stadiums.

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.

Police patrol by people having a drink on a bar terrace at the Navigli in downtown Milan.
Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP.

The basic green pass can be obtained via vaccination, recovery, or a negative test from a pharmacy carried out in the preceding 72 hours (for PCR tests) or 48 hours (for rapid tests).

“Essential” businesses “related to essential and primary needs”, such as supermarkets and food stores, pharmacies, opticians, and shops selling fuel, animal food, and specialised medical equipment are exempt from the requirement, according to the text of the decree.

Vaccine pass validity reduced from nine to six months

February 1st also sees the validity of Italy’s ‘super’ or ‘reinforced’ green pass, which can be obtained only through vaccination or recovery from Covid, reduced from nine to six months.

While Italian media reports that the government is considering extending the validity of the pass indefinitely for those who have had a third or booster dose, this change has still not been confirmed as of Tuesday morning and the government has not made any official statement on the issue. (We will update this article with new information following any changes.)
 
The ‘super green pass’ is currently required to access most venues and services in Italy, including public transport, restaurants and bars, hotels, cinemas, tourist and cultural sites, cinemas, concerts, sporting events and sports facilities.

READ ALSO: Q&A: How will Italy’s new six-month Covid vaccine pass validity work?

The managers of these facilities are responsible for conducting checks, and businesses caught failing to enforce the rules face a fine of between 400 and 1,000 euros – as do any users found in these places without the pass. 

Fines for unvaccinated over-50s

Following a January 5th government decree which imposed an immediate vaccine mandate on over 50s in Italy, a 100 euro fine kicks in from February 1st for all those in the age bracket who remain unvaccinated by this date.

The sanction applies not just with regard to first doses, but also for anyone who as of February 1st has failed to complete their primary vaccination cycle ‘in accordance with the instructions and within the time provided by circular of the Ministry of Health’ or get their booster dose within a stipulated time frame, the decree says.

According to the news daily il Quotidiano, that means that anyone in the age bracket who has gone more than six months since receiving their last shot would be in violation of the mandate – even if they have completed the primary vaccination cycle.

READ ALSO: Over-50s in Italy without Covid booster face 100 euro fine

The “one-off” 100-euro fines will be collected “automatically” by Italy’s Agenzie delle Entrate (Inland Revenue-Recovery Agency) based on data passed on from the country’s national health system, the health ministry confirmed on its official vaccination information site.

Those who are notified that they are in violation of the rules have ten days to communicate the reason for their vaccination status to their local health office (Azienda sanitaria locale or Asl).

The mandate is in place in the first instance until June 15, 2022, and applies to anyone due to turn 50 by that date.

Nightclubs and dance venues to reopen?

Italy shut down nightclubs and dance venues shortly before Christmas as Covid infection rates soared over the festive period.

That ban has now been extended until at least February 10th, along with the country-wide outdoor mask mandate.

Changes to international travel rules

Italy’s international travel rules expire on January 31st. On January 27th, Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed an ordinance containing the entry rules that will apply from February 1st until March 15th.

READ ALSO: How do Italy’s international travel rules change from February 1st?

For arrivals from within the EU, the government has confirmed travel restrictions will be relaxed from the start of February: anyone travelling to Italy from within the bloc will need only a basic ‘green pass’ health certificate or its equivalent, which can be obtained via vaccination, recovery, or a recent negative Covid test, to enter the country without a self-isolation requirement.

Up till now, travellers entering Italy from within the EU have required both a ‘super green pass’, that proves the bearer is vaccinated or recovered from Covid, and a recent negative test result to avoid a five-day quarantine on arrival.

For arrivals from all other countries, the ordinance states that the existing rules will be extended another six weeks.

That means arrivals from countries on the government’s List D can continue to enter Italy without a quarantine requirement provided they can produce both a vaccination certificate and a recent negative test; while entry from any of the countries on its List E is permitted only under specific circumstances, and comes with a ten day self-isolation requirement.

The Local will continue to update this article and report changes to the travel restrictions when more information becomes available. Please see our homepage or travel news section for the latest updates.

For members

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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