Italy to simplify Covid travel rules for EU arrivals

Italy will ease coronavirus restrictions for arrivals from other EU countries from February,

A passenger shows an EU health pass on a mobile phone
Italy has changed its travel rules following an EU recommendation on use of the health pass system. Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

Under a new decree signed by Health Minister Roberto Speranza late on Tuesday, “the ‘green pass’ will be sufficient for travellers coming from countries within the European Union” from next month.

This means arrivals from other EU countries from February will no longer need to show both proof of vaccination or recent recovery plus a negative test result.

It will also remove a requirement for unvaccinated passengers to quarantine for five days on arrival.

As cases of the Omicron variant surged in December, Italy’s health ministry brought in the current requirement for negative coronavirus tests from everyone, whether vaccinated or not, and a five-day quarantine for those who are not vaccinated – a decision which irritated Brussels.

The change to Italy’s rules was reported hours after a recommendation from the EU council, made up of member states, that countries should base their travel rules on an individual case rather than the region they are travelling from..

That would mean those with an EU health pass or certificate, which proves vaccination, recovery or a negative test would be allowed to travel freely within the EU or Schengen zone without the need for extra tests or quarantine, even if they were coming from a country with high Covid infection rates.

This refers only to international travel, and not to the domestic health or vaccine passes that many EU countries, including Italy, now require to access venues such as bars.

The recommendation is comes into force on February 1st, but it is non-binding so individual EU countries would be free to impose whatever travel restrictions they wish

The EU created its Covid-19 certificate scheme to try to ensure free movement throughout the bloc but as infections spiked again in the winter certain countries chose to reimpose extra restrictions on all travellers.

Italy’s so-called green pass shows the bearer has been vaccinated, has recently recovered from the virus, or has tested negative.

EXPLAINED: How do Italy’s Covid vaccination rules apply to visitors?

Travellers from any European member state can show their country’s version of the green pass, or health pass – which is recognised on par with Italy’s.

The Italian health ministry is set to review its travel restrictions for arrivals from other countries by February 1st. The ministry has not yet given any indications as to whether it plans to change or extend existing rules.

In addition to the health pass requirement for travel, Italy is increasingly relying on the use of its domestic green pass, proving vaccination, testing or recovery.

The country now has a two-tiered system in place, with passes required for entry to almost all venues and services in the country.

From February 1st, Italy will make its green pass mandatory for entry to most shops, and will cut the validity of domestic passes issued based on vaccination from nine to six months.

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

Member comments

  1. Can anyone explain to me why Italy, a country with a very high vaccine uptake and low vaccine hesitancy, needs to coerce it’s people with these measures? What is the real motivation? I need to vaccinate my 12 year old son from an illness that poses him almost zero risk in order for him to continue his swimming lessons? That’s an outrage, why don’t most Italian people see this? Why isn’t anyone asking the questions of the benefit of these vaccine mandates?

    Firstly; vaccination rates are already very high in Italy – so why do we need to coerce people?
    Secondly; infection rates, hospitalizations and death data in Italy is comparable of worse (per capita) than countries such as the UK who have zero vaccine pass program. So what is the real purpose?

      1. Why would it? Maybe because UK visitors for both tourism and business are a massive source of revenue for the Italian state Tommy. They did the same last year after a little bit of time, recognizing the NHS vaccine QR code as adequate proof on par with the EU code.

        1. It’s an EU wide recommendation, not just Italian. The UK is a 3rd country now – it doesn’t deserve special treatment over others.

  2. What about people coming from the UK?

    I have a 3 month trip to Rome booked for March, will I still need additional tests to enter Italy? My vaccination status will last to mid June, following the 6 month new rule from 1st February.


  3. My wife and friends are booked to visit Italy in April. Being a mix of NHS staff and care workers they all got boosters in October. The 6 month ruling means their NHS covid passports will be invalid in April. The potential impact of this on visitors from Uk means many won’t be eligible for green pass and will go elsewhere. Wife now looking at Greece and Spain alternatives. Big impact on Italian tourism industry I suspect.

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For members


Why Italian resorts are struggling to fill jobs this summer

Italy's tourist season is expected to be back in full swing this year - but will there be enough workers to meet the demand?

Why Italian resorts are struggling to fill jobs this summer

Italy’s tourist numbers are booming, sparking hopes that the industry could see a return to something not far off pre-pandemic levels by the summer.

There’s just one catch: there aren’t nearly enough workers signing up for seasonal jobs this year to supply all that demand.

READ ALSO: Will tourism in Italy return to pre-pandemic levels this year?

“There’s a 20 percent staff shortage, the situation is dramatic,” Fulvio Griffa, president of the Italian tourist operators federation Fiepet Confesercenti, told the Repubblica news daily.

Estimates for how many workers Italy is missing this season range from 70,000 (the figure given by the small and medium enterprise federation Conflavoro PMI) to 300-350,000 (the most recent estimate from Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia, who last month quoted 250,000).

Whatever the exact number is, everyone agrees: it’s a big problem.

READ ALSO: Dining outdoors and hiking: How visitors plan to holiday in Italy this summer

Italy isn’t the only European country facing this issue. France is also short an estimated 300,000 seasonal workers this year. Spain is down 50,000 waiters, and Austria is missing 15,000 hired hands across its food and tourism sectors.

Italy’s economy, however, is particularly dependent on tourism. If the job vacancies can’t be filled and resorts are unable to meet the demand anticipated this summer, the country stands to lose an estimated  €6.5 billion.

Italy's tourism businesses are missing an estimated 20 percent of workers.
Italy’s tourism businesses are missing an estimated 20 percent of workers. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

“After two years of pandemic, it would be a sensational joke to miss out on a summer season that is expected to recover strongly due to the absence of workers,” said Vittorio Messina, president of the Assoturismo Confesercenti tourist association.

Different political factions disagree as to exactly what (and who) is to blame for the lack of interest from applicants.

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

Italy’s tourism minister Massimo Garavaglia, a member of the right wing League party, has singled out the reddito di cittadinanza, or ‘citizen’s income’ social security benefit introduced by the populist Five Star Movement in 2019 for making unemployment preferable to insecure, underpaid seasonal work.

Bernabò Bocca, the president of the hoteliers association Federalberghi, agrees with him – along with large numbers of small business owners.

“What’s going to make an unemployed person come to me for 1,300 euros a month if he can stay sprawled on the beach and live off the damned citizenship income?” complained an anonymous restauranteur interviewed by the Corriere della Sera news daily.

“Before Covid, I had a stack of resumes this high on my desk in April. Now I’m forced to check emails every ten minutes hoping someone will come forward. Nothing like this had ever happened to me.” 

READ ALSO: MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

Italy is experiencing a dire shortage of workers this tourist season.
Italy is experiencing a dire shortage of workers this tourist season. Photo: Andrea Pattaro / AFP.

Five Star MPs, however, argue that the focus on the unemployment benefit is a distraction from the real issues of job insecurity and irregular contracts.

There appears to be some merit to that theory. A recent survey of 1,650 seasonal workers found that only 3 percent of the people who didn’t work in the 2021 tourist season opted out due to the reddito di cittadinza.

In fact the majority (75 percent) of respondents who ended up not working over the 2021 season said they had searched for jobs but couldn’t find any openings because the Covid situation had made it too uncertain for companies to hire in advance.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

Others said the most of jobs that were advertised were only for a 2-3 month duration, half the length of the season (again, due to Covid uncertainty), making it not worth their while to relocate.

Giancarlo Banchieri, a hotelier who is also president of the Confesercenti business federation, agrees that Covid has been the main factor in pushing workers away from the industry, highlighting “the sense of precariousness that this job has taken on in the last two years: many people have abandoned it for fear of the uncertainty of a sector that has experienced a terrible time.”

The instability brought about by two years of Covid restrictions has pushed many workers away from the tourism sector.
The instability brought about by two years of Covid restrictions has pushed many workers away from the tourism sector. Photo: Andrea Pattaro / AFP.

“I said goodbye to at least seven employees, and none of them are sitting at home on the citizen’s income,” Banchieri told Repubblica. “They have all reinvented themselves elsewhere; some are plumbers, others work in the municipality.”

READ ALSO: OPINION: Mass tourism is back in Italy – but the way we travel is changing

To counteract the problem, Garavaglia has proposed three measures: increasing the numbers of visas available for seasonal workers coming from abroad; allowing people to work in summer jobs while continuing to receive 50 percent of their citizen’s income; and reintroducing a voucher system that allows casual workers to receive the same kinds of welfare and social security benefits as those on more formal contracts.

Whether these will be enough to save Italy’s 2022 tourist season remains to be seen, but at this stage industry operators will take whatever fixes are offered.

“The sector is in such a dire situation that any common sense proposals much be welcomed,” the Federalberghi president Bocca told journalists.