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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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Italian low-cost airline staff to strike on October 1st

Pilots and flight attendants from Ryanair and Vueling will strike on Saturday, October 1st over wages and working conditions, unions said.

Italian low-cost airline staff to strike on October 1st

Pilots and cabin crew from Ryanair and Vueling will take part in a national strike action on Saturday, October 1st, Italian unions confirmed in a statement released on Monday. 

The statement said Ryanair staff will hold a 24-hour walkout, whereas Vueling staff will strike for a total of four hours, from 1pm to 5pm.

At the time of writing it wasn’t yet clear how the strike would affect passengers, though significant delays or cancellations can’t be ruled out. 

Italian trade unions Filt-Cgil and Uiltrasporti called the strike in protest against the employers’ failure to “grant acceptable working conditions and wages that are in line with minimum national salaries”. 

Unions also slammed Spanish airline Vueling’s decision to lay off 17 flight attendants based in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport “after months of hard work and professionalism”. 

A Vueling Airbus A320 plane.

Staff from Spanish airline Vueling will strike over working conditions and the recent lay-off of 17 flight attendants. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The upcoming strike will be the latest in a long series of demonstrations that rocked Europe’s airline industry over the summer, causing significant disruption to thousands of air passengers. 

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

The last significant strike was held on Monday of last week, when a 24-hour national strike from unionised ground staff caused Italy’s flag carrier, ITA Airways, to cancel several domestic flights. 

On that occasion, ITA said affected passengers were rebooked on the first available flights.

As with all previous strikes, passengers travelling with Ryanair or Vueling on Saturday, October 1st are advised to contact their airline for updates prior to setting off.

In the event of delays and/or cancellations, the rights of all passengers are protected by EU regulation EC 261. This applies to any air passenger flying within the EU/Schengen zone, arriving in the EU/Schengen zone from a non-EU country by means of a EU-based airline (all airlines involved in the strike are EU-based) or departing from the EU/Schengen zone. 

READ ALSO: Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

According to this regulation, airlines are financially accountable for any journey disruption they are responsible for. That includes disruptions caused by airline staff strikes. Therefore, should your flight be significantly delayed or cancelled, you might be entitled to receive compensation from your airline. 

For further information on what you might be entitled to and in which cases, check our guide here.