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COVID-19 RULES

Covid-19: What unvaccinated travellers should know before booking flights to Italy

Italy is now allowing travellers, including from outside the EU, to enter the country without proof of vaccination against Covid-19. But anyone planning a trip should be aware of the restrictions that still apply once in the country.

Covid-19: What unvaccinated travellers should know before booking flights to Italy
Italy has eased its travel restrictions this month to mean entry is allowed with only a negative test result. Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP

After Italy dropped its requirement for arrivals (by plane, train or any other mode of transportation) to show proof of vaccination against or recovery from Covid-19, The Local has received a number of questions from people in non-EU countries about which restrictions unvaccinated people would face if they book tickets to Italy in the coming weeks or months.

As of March 1st, proof of a negative test result is now sufficient for entry to Italy – rather than a test result plus proof of vaccination or recovery, as was previously required.

The relaxation of the travel rules, which is hoped to boost Italy’s tourism sector following two years of Covid restrictions, means travel rules for non-EU travellers are now the same as for those coming from within Europe following a change to those rules in February.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s travel rules changed in March

But, although the travel rules are changing, Italy has yet to ease most of its strict domestic health measures.

Once in the country, all visitors to Italy will be subject to the same rules that apply to residents – namely the requirement to show proof of vaccination against or recovery from Covid-19 in order to access almost all venues and services in the country.

People who can’t show this proof – either in the form of an Italian ‘super green pass’ or a recognised international equivalent – have been finding themselves unable to check in to a hotel, take a bus, or eat in a restaurant.

The list of places where you’ll need to show proof of vaccination or recovery includes: restaurants, bars, hotels, ski resorts, museums, galleries, exhibitions, cinemas, sports stadiums, swimming pools, gyms, trade fairs, conference centres and festivals, and civil or religious ceremonies.

The pass is also required to board all means of transport, including on planes, trains, ships, coaches, local buses, trams and subways.

Proof a negative test result instead is valid only for some purposes, such as when entering shops and hairdressers.

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 short list of businesses which are not subject to any form of health pass requirement includes supermarkets, open-air markets and pharmacies.

Anyone refusing or unable to comply with the health pass obligation can be fined up to 1,000 euros by police. Fines also apply to the owners of any businesses which are found allowing customers to break the rules. These rules are strictly enforced around Italy, particularly in city centres, meaning staff at venues are often very cautious.

EXPLAINED: How to use Italy’s Covid passenger locator form for travel 

Travellers from any other EU member state can show their country’s version of the green pass – which is recognised on par with Italy’s – to gain access to all venues where it is required.

Italy’s government introduced new rules in February with the aim of making it easier for foreign visitors to access venues and services using either a foreign-issued certificate of vaccination or recovery, or a negative test result only. See full details of how the ‘green pass’ system works for visitors HERE.

When will the rules change?

These are the current rules, but Italy’s health measures can and do change frequently and at short notice. If you plan to travel to Italy in a few months’ time it is unlikely that these rules will still be in place by then.

Italy’s government has confirmed there will be a “gradual” easing of the health pass requirements from April 1st onwards. 

However, so far, no further details of the plans have been announced. It is not yet known which businesses will be first to have the requirement lifted, or on what date.

Italian news reports speculate that the rule will probably be eased first at stadiums, bars, and restaurants, particularly those with outdoor seating.

READ ALSO: When will Italy scrap its Covid ‘super green pass’ requirement?

Local authorities are pushing for the government to remove the requirement at venues such as hotels and restaurants first, in time for Easter, when Italy’s lucrative summer tourism season begins.

However at the time of writing no details of the plan for lifting the rules has been confirmed.

Nor has the government said if or when it plans to end the requirement to wear masks in all indoor and some outdoor public places.

Be aware too that some of the rules can vary from one part of Italy to another, as regional authorities often enforce their own stricter requirements.

The Local will continue to publish further updates on changes to the Italian Covid-19 health measures as soon as they are announced. See the latest news on this topic here.

Find more information about Italy’s Covid-19 health restrictions on the Italian health ministry’s website (available in English).

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TRAVEL NEWS

What does Italy’s general strike on Friday mean for travel?

Italian trade unions have called a nationwide general strike for Friday, May 20th. Here's a look at how travel within the country will be affected.

What does Italy’s general strike on Friday mean for travel?

The strike has been organised by a range of national and regional trade unions representing various sectors in protest at the Italian government’s spending on the Ukraine war.

Union leaders say the funds should be targeted instead at increasing workers’ wages and, in turn, families’ purchasing power.

Walter Montagnoli, national secretary of the CUB union, told SkyTG24: “The conflict needs to be stopped. […] Draghi’s government is taking military expenses to 2 percent of our GDP: national defence expenses will go from 25 to 38 billion euros, thus reducing the budget for healthcare, education, public transport, the construction industry and, naturally, pensions and wages.”

Demonstrations are set to take place in cities across Italy, including in Milan, Rome, Messina, Palermo, Catania, Cagliari, Turin, Bologna, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Turin, Genoa, La Spezia, Reggio Emilia, Trieste, Bergamo and Taranto, according to media reports.

Strike action is otherwise expected to focus on the transport sector, meaning some disruption to travel plans is likely – depending on where you are in Italy and what time you’ll be travelling.

Here’s a look at what you should know before setting out on your journey on Friday. 

Train services 

Railroad services will be affected for a period of 24 hours, from 9pm on Thursday to 9pm on Friday.

However, Trenitalia has already communicated that Freccia and Intercity trains will run regularly and essential regional services will be guaranteed in the following time frames: 6am to 9am and 6pm to 9pm.

If you’re travelling with Italo, the company has published a list of its guaranteed services on its website

Local public transport 

Local public transport including buses, trams and metro trains in Italian towns and cities will also be affected by the strike action, but the magnitude of disruption to regular services will depend largely upon the area.

Rome and Milan will likely be the most affected cities.

In Milan, metro trains will run regularly until at least 6pm, whereas buses and tram services may be affected between 8.45am and 3pm and after 6pm.

In the capital, local transport providers ATAC and TPL said services will operate normally before 8.30am and from 5pm to 8pm.

If you’ll be commuting, you’re advised to consult the website of your local transport provider before setting off.

Flights

The ENAC (Italian Civil Aviation Authority) confirmed that all flights between 7am and 10am and between 6pm and 9pm will operate as normal.

However, they strongly suggest that travellers contact their airline to check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport.

See ENAC’s website for further information.

Travelling by car

Travelling by car might also be fairly problematic (or more problematic than it usually is) as motorway toll booth staff are set to strike from 10pm on Thursday to 10pm on Friday.

While the impact may differ from one part of the country to another, this is likely to mean a smaller number of toll booths are open and, as a result, lines at some motorway entrances will be longer than usual.

Drivers are advised to consult motorway operator Autostrade per l’Italia’s traffic map for real-time updates.

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