Italy scraps tiered system of Covid rules for vaccinated

The Italian government on Wednesday night confirmed that its four-tiered system of coronavirus rules would no longer apply to those who are vaccinated against or recovered from Covid-19.

People walk in central Milan wearing FFP2 face masks.
Italy will no longer enforce health measures under its tiered system as the country relies increasingly on vaccination. Photo: Miguel Medina

“if a region ends up in the red zone, the related limitations will not affect vaccinated people,” stated Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza at a press conference on Wednesday night announcing the contents of an incoming decree.

A government press release clarified that red zone  restrictions will not apply to anyone with a ‘super’ green pass – the name given to Italy’s Covid health certificate issued based on vaccination (with one or more doses) against Covid-19 or a certificate of recovery from the disease.

This is as opposed to the ‘basic’ version of the Italian green pass, which can also be issued based on a negative test result and is valid in limited circumstances.

READ ALSO: Italy confirms unlimited Covid green pass validity after booster

For those who remain unvaccinated and who do not have a recent recovery certificate, rules under zone restrictions will continue to apply.

The rule change announced on Wednesday means Italy’s system of zone restrictions, in place since November 2020, has effectively been scrapped for those who are vaccinated or recently recovered.

No additional restrictions are placed on those with a ‘super’ green pass if a region is declared a yellow or orange zones under Italy’s existing rules.

Nationwide health measures, such as the mask mandate in public areas, will also continue to apply regardless of vaccination status.

The new decree is aimed at simplifying Italy’s mass of Covid-19 rules and restrictions as the country’s health situation continues to improve, and as some rules are increasingly seen as obsolete amid Italy’s growing reliance on the use of vaccine passes.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi promised on Wednesday night to “continue to advance on this path of reopening”, saying ministers would soon announce a timeline for easing restrictions.

The government had been promising to review the use of its coloured zone system since mid-January, as its usefulness was called into question.

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

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

It was initially used to place tighter restrictions on movement in areas where the risk of contagion and pressure on hospitals was deemed dangerously high.

No further details about how zone restrictions will apply to the unvaccinated under the new decree were immediately available on Thursday.

More information, including the date when the decree comes into force, will be confirmed once the full text has been published; multiple Italian media outlets have suggested the new rules are likely to take effect from Monday.

Nearly 88 percent of Italy’s population over the age of 12 has now been vaccinated and around 34 million people have received a third dose, according to the latest health ministry data.

For more information please see the Italian health ministry’s website (available in English) or the government’s official green pass website.

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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.