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COVID-19 RULES

Italy to review cut to Covid green pass validity on Wednesday

The Italian government is holding talks on Wednesday as it prepares to sign off on another round of changes to the country's health rules, including a likely extension to the validity of vaccine passes.

A man walks in central Rome wearing a mask with the Italian flag on it on December 23, 2021
Italy's measures for managing the coronavirus health situation are changing. Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

**Note: This article is no longer being updated. For the latest news on changes to Italy’s health restrictions, please click here.**

Following days of discussion, Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s cabinet will meet again at 4pm on Wednesday to decide on changes including the future of Italy’s coloured ‘zone’ system and the duration of the ‘super’ green pass for those who have had a booster shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, news agency Ansa reports.

Updates to existing measures this week will be aimed at “simplifying the rules and starting a process that should lead to a normalisation of life in Italy”, Ansa writes.

The latest update from the government is expected just a day after sweeping changes came into force on February 1st, making Italy’s basic ‘green pass’ mandatory for entry to most shops and cutting the validity of passes based on vaccination from nine to six months.

The government is expected on Wednesday to reverse the cut to the validity of green passes for those who have had been vaccinated with a third or booster shot, amid concerns about how it will impact those who had their boosters earlier.

READ ALSO: Italy urges people to book boosters ahead of Covid pass validity cut

Those who had their booster early would otherwise see their pass expire in the coming days or weeks – an issue which primarily affects healthcare workers, who were among the first to be vaccinated with a third dose from September.

There is also widespread concern that the rule change will prove problematic for foreign tourists from countries which began administering booster shots earlier than Italy, such as the US.

This presents a serious problem in Italy, where a valid ‘super’ green pass or vaccine pass is now a necessity for many aspects of everyday life in Italy including for access to everything from public transport to restaurants and hotels.

With no fourth dose available, Italian media reports that ministers now appear likely o either keep the validity period at nine months or to extend it indefinitely for those who have had a booster. 

The six-month deadline is therefore expected only to apply to those who have had two shots.

At this point however, no changes have been officially confirmed.

READ ALSO: How do Italy’s Covid-19 rules change from February 1st?

A bar owner shows a valid Green Pass on the VerifyC19 mobile phone application in central Rome on August 6, 2021

Italy’s reinforced green pass is now required to enter many venues including hotels and restaurants. Photo: Andreas SOLARO/AFP

The cut to validity was widely expected to be reviewed at an earlier meeting on Monday, ahead of the rule change coming into force on Tuesday – but so far the government has not made any official statement on the issue.

Before a decision can be made on Wednesday, the government needs the green light from its panel of scientific experts, the comitato tecnico scientifico (CTS).

The government on Wednesday will also discuss several other changes expected to be included in a new decree to be signed on Thursday, reports Ansa.

These include long-discussed changes to the country’s four-tiered system of coronavirus risk ‘zones’, which was not updated this week and looks increasingly likely to be scrapped.

Ministers are also expected to take steps to simplify the “cacophony” of rules on managing the health situation in schools in Italy, which Ansa says “is creating difficulties not only for the school system but also for millions of families”.

On Monday, the government extended the nationwide outdoor mask mandate and the closure of nightclubs for a further ten days, until February 1st.

What about Italy’s travel rules?

Italy’s current rules for international arrivals, which are managed separately, are to be extended according to an update on the Italian foreign ministry’s Viaggiare Sicuri (Travel Safe) website.

The rules on travel from non-EU countries are to be extended for an additional six weeks until March 15th, while the government has confirmed it will simplify requirements for arrivals from within the EU.

The extension was contained within a health ministry ordinance signed on January 27th 

No further changes are expected as discussions on Monday are likely to be about domestic health measures only.

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

For more information about Covid-19 restrictions in Italy 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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