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Green pass and red zones: How Italy’s latest decree changes the Covid rules

Unlimited vaccine pass validity for the Covid-boosted and the scrapping of 'zones' for the fully vaccinated are two key changes that came into force in Italy on Saturday following a new government decree.

Italy has relaxed Covid restrictions for the fully vaccinated and boosted in its latest decree.
Italy has relaxed Covid restrictions for the fully vaccinated and boosted in its latest decree. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

On February 5th, Italy’s government brought in a new set of rules aimed at loosening Covid restrictions for the fully vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19.

The new measures are also designed to make life easier for tourists entering the country, and to simplify rules around quarantine requirements in schools.

Here’s what changes, according to the decree text (read it here, in Italian).

Unlimited ‘super green pass’ validity for the Covid-boosted

The ‘super green pass’ vaccine pass, now required to access most services and venues in Italy, as of Saturday has unlimited validity for those who have received their booster shot, or those who have completed their primary vaccination cycle and subsequently recovered from Covid.

“COVID-19 green certifications issued after the third dose are effective without the need for re-vaccination. Those who have undergone the third dose are equivalent to those who have contracted COVID and recovered after completion of the primary vaccination cycle,” the government’s press release summing up the decree states.

LATEST: Italy confirms unlimited Covid green pass validity after booster

The announcement comes after Italy slashed the pass’s validity from nine to six months on February 1st, causing widespread concern about the impact on those who already had their booster shots almost six months ago.

With no fourth dose available, tens of thousands of people who had a booster almost six months ago in Italy risked losing access to workplaces, public transport and much of public life within the next few weeks as their passes were set to become invalid.

The rule change was also expected to prove problematic for foreign tourists from countries which began administering booster shots earlier than Italy, such as the US, as foreign-issued vaccine certificates are considered equivalent to Italy’s ‘super green pass’.

The decree text specifies that foreign visitors who have completed their primary vaccination cycle and received a booster shot, or have completed their primary vaccination cycle and subsequently recovered from Covid, will have indefinite access to all those spaces which require a super green pass or its equivalent.

‘Basic green pass’ health certificate valid for non-boosted visitors and those with vaccines not recognised by Italy

For foreign tourists, Italy only recognises certain vaccines (all EMA-recognised vaccines plus Covishield, R-CoVI and Covid-19 vaccine-recombinant (Fiocruz) as valid.

EXPLAINED: How do Italy’s Covid ‘super green pass’ rules apply to visitors?

This presented problems for would-be visitors that had received vaccines not currently recognised by Italy, and has been addressed in the new decree: those who are fully vaccinated with non-recognised vaccines can now access places such as hotels and restaurants where a vaccination pass was previously required with a ‘basic green pass’, under which a recent negative test is sufficient.

Visitors who are vaccinated with vaccines that are recognised by Italy, but who completed their primary vaccination cycle more than six months ago and have not received a booster shot can use the same ‘basic green pass’ obtained via a recent negative test result to access all venues and services in Italy.

Italy's vaccine pass will now have unlimited validity for those who have received a booster shot.
Italy’s vaccine pass will now have unlimited validity for those who have received a booster shot. Photo: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP

A negative result from a rapid antigen test taken at a pharmacy will provide a certificate with 48 hours’ validity; while a negative result from a PCR test will produce a certificate with 72 hours’ validity.

‘Zone’ restrictions to be scrapped for super green pass holders

As of Saturday, no zone restrictions apply to those in possession of a valid super green pass, the decree states – not even in the highest risk ‘red’ zones.

Introduced under former prime minister Giuseppe Conte in early November 2020, the four-tiered zone system divides Italy’s 21 regions and autonomous provinces by colour: from white (lowest risk), to yellow, orange, and red (highest risk).

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

The system, which has been revised multiple times since it was first brought in, was initially used to place tighter restrictions on movement in areas where the risk of contagion and pressure on hospitals was deemed dangerously high.

But its usefulness had been increasingly called into question in recent weeks amid increasing reliance on the use of vaccine passes in Italy and rule changes which mean restrictions in white and yellow zones are now the same, while rules only change in an orange zone for people who are unvaccinated.

Under the new measures, Italy’s zone restrictions are effectively over for those who are fully vaccinated and boosted.

For the unvaccinated or those who have not recently recovered from Covid, zonal restrictions will continue to apply.

Schools quarantine rules to be simplified

As schools and regional authorities had complained the current quarantine rules were unworkably arcane, these have been simplified in the new decree.

For kindergartens and nurseries, in-person teaching will continue with up to four positive cases, and will switch to remote learning for five days if there are five or more positive cases.

For primary schools, in-person teaching will continue, with the use of FFP2 masks for teachers and students aged over six, with up to four positive cases.

The entire class will be required to take a Covid test on Day 0 (the day the first positive case is discovered) and Day 5. 

When there are five or more positive cases, students who completed their primary vaccination cycle or have recovered from Covid less than four months ago, or have received a booster shot, will remain in the classroom; all others will switch to remote learning from home for a five day period.

For middle and secondary schools, where there is one positive case among students, in-person teaching will continue with the use of FFP2 masks by all students and teachers.

Where there are two or more positive cases, students who completed their primary vaccination cycle or have recovered from Covid less than four months ago, or have received a booster shot, will remain in the classroom; all others will switch to remote learning from home for a five day period.

In all schools, the FFP2 masks must be worn for ten days from the last positive case.

Member comments

  1. Ok, here is the problem: we were vaccinated in Italy and the first time around all you had to supply was your fiscal code to get your green pass. Now it seems you need to supply your health card number (which if you are NOT a resident, you do not have). We had our third dose but there is no way of it registering on our green pass. NOW WHAT?! thanks. Canadians in Italian limbo (and so many others)

  2. You could try asking at the farmacia; I understand that they may be able to retrieve your Green Pass for you with just a Codice Fiscale.

  3. My son had Covid and was confirmed recovered last week with a negative test – he has just turned 12 so we are trying to get his greenpass but so far not having any luck. We have called ATS, ASL and the ministry. The problem seems to be that his Tessera was issued by Lazio a few years ago but now we live in Lombardia, the regions don’t communicate with each other. No one can tell us how he can get his greenpass and without it he is unable to live a normal life.

    Does anyone have experience of this and point me in the right direction?

    1. Hi, it seems that you would only be able to access a green pass based on recovery from Covid-19 if you have a certificate of recovery issued by your doctor or healthcare provider in Italy and registered with the local health office (ASL). Once registered it should generate a green pass automatically. If you have a certificate which you can send to the ASL in the area you now live in, they should be able to help (although they might insist that your son registers with the office in your new area first). If you don’t have a recovery certificate, and only a negative test result, this would not be seen as valid for the purposes of issuing a green pass based on recovery.
      You can find more details here on the Italian health ministry’s green pass website (which is unfortunately only available in Italian):
      Best wishes,
      – Clare

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Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

The health ministry is reviewing its quarantine requirements as the country's Covid-19 health situation improved again this week, according to Italian media reports.

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

Italy has taken a more cautious approach to Covid in recent months than many of its European neighbours, keeping strict isolation rules in place for anyone who tests positive for the virus.

But this could be set to change in the coming days, according to media reports, as one of Italy’s deputy health ministers said the government is about to cut the isolation period for asymptomatic cases.

“Certainly in the next few days there will be a reduction in isolation for those who are positive but have no symptoms,” Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa said in a TV interview on the political talk show Agorà on Tuesday.

“We have to manage to live with the virus,” he said.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reported that the compulsory isolation period could be reduced to 48 hours for those who test positive but remain asymptomatic – provided they subsequently test negative after the day two mark.

Under Italy’s current rules, vaccinated people who test positive must stay in isolation for at least seven days, and unvaccinated people for ten days – regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms.

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

At the end of the isolation period, the patient has to take another test to exit quarantine. Those who test negative are free to leave; those who remain positive must stay in isolation until they get a negative test result, up to a maximum of 21 days in total (at which point it doesn’t matter what the test result says).

Health ministry sources indicated the new rules would cut the maximum quarantine period to 15 or even 10 days for people who continue to test positive after the initial isolation period is up, La Stampa said.

The government is believed to be reviewing the rules as the latest official data showed Covid infection and hospitalisation rates were slowing again this week, as the current wave of contagions appeared to have peaked in mid-July.

However, the national Rt number (which shows the rate of transmission) remained above the epidemic threshold, and the number of fatalities continued to rise.

The proposed changes still aren’t lenient enough for some parties. Regional authorities have been pushing for an end to quarantine altogether, even for people who are actively positive – an idea Costa appears sympathetic to.

“The next step I think is to consider the idea of even eliminating the quarantine, perhaps by wearing a mask and therefore being able to go to work,” he told reporters.

“We must review the criteria for isolation, to avoid blocking the country again”.

At least one health expert, however, was unenthusiastic about the proposal.

Dr Nino Cartabellotta, head of Italy’s evidence-based medicine group Gimbe, tweeted on Tuesday: “There are currently no epidemiological or public health reasons to abolish the isolation of Covid-19 positives”

Massimo Andreoni, professor of Infectious Diseases at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Tor Vergata University of Rome, was more ambivalent about the prospect.

The isolation requirement for asymptomatic cases should be “revised somewhat in the light of the epidemiological data”, he told reporters, but urged “a minimum of precaution, because the less the virus circulates and the fewer severe cases there are, the fewer new variants arise”.

When the question was last raised at the end of June, Health Minister Roberto Speranza was firmly against the idea of lifting quarantine requirements for people who were Covid positive.

“At the moment such a thing is not in question,” he told newspaper La Repubblica at the time. “Anyone who is infected must stay at home.”