Italian regions push to scrap Covid rules as official timeline delayed

A month after Italy’s prime minister said a timeline for easing Covid rules would be announced “soon”, regional governments have given up waiting and are now drawing up their own plan.

Italian regions push to scrap Covid rules as official timeline delayed
Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

With no sign of the government’s promised “roadmap” for ending coronavirus-related health measures in Italy, regional leaders are now pushing to implement changes to the rules as soon as possible, according to Italian media reports.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi initially announced that the government was working on a timeline for easing Covid rules on February 7th, without going into detail. On February 19th, he said there would be a “gradual” end to the country’s health pass requirement, and indicated that his “road map” for easing restrictions was on the way.

On February 23rd, Draghi announced that Italy’s Covid state of emergency would end on March 31st, and confirmed plans to “gradually” remove the ‘super green pass’ requirement at many venues from April.

READ ALSO: Where you now need to show a Covid green pass in Italy

But any further details of the plan are yet to materialise. And with the government now focusing its attention on the situation in Ukraine, regional authorities around Italy have begun working together to draw up their own timeline.

Heads of Italian regional governments are writing up a proposal, Italian media reports, in order to give certainty to business owners, residents and visitors, who still have little idea of what to expect in terms of Covid restrictions in Italy beyond March 31st.

Regions are reportedly pushing for the green pass requirement to end on April 1st, and for rules on wearing masks indoors to be scrapped by Easter.

The president of Italy’s regional conference, Massimiliano Fedriga, said the first thing to go should be the current strict checks on compliance with green pass rules, in order to “save what remains of the first instalment of the tourist season, the Easter holidays”, reported Repubblica.

“All [of Italy’s] competitors, from Spain to Greece, have already reopened and those who have not yet done so completely, such as Greece, have announced the date of the return to normal,” Repubblica noted.

READ ALSO: When will Italy ease its coronavirus restrictions?

However, the roadmap document now being drafted by the regions remains a proposal, and there’s no guarantee that the government will accept it.

It’s also uncertain whether regions may be able to choose to ease their local rules independently. 

At the moment, under rules implemented under the state of emergency, regional governments have the power to implement stricter measures locally than those put in place at a national level but are not allowed to ease rules without approval from the government.

With the end of the state of emergency, and with the government occupied with the fallout from Russia’s attack on Ukraine, It’s not clear whether the Italian health ministry would be likely to approve regions’ requests for changes at either a national or local level.

Though nothing has been officially confirmed, Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri said he is “in favour of reshaping the ‘super green pass’, gradually, until its abolition not from April 1st but in April,” as Draghi previously said was the plan.

“I would carefully evaluate an abolition in workplaces before elsewhere,” Sileri added. 

He said the priority should be “restoring normal capacity at the stadium or in the office” and suggested ending the requirement to wear masks indoors “by the middle of April”.

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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.