Unlocking the World

Traveling to Italy during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN StaffUpdated 22nd October 2021
Italy remains one of Europe's least affected countries.
Editor's Note — Coronavirus cases are in flux across the globe. Health officials caution that staying home is the best way to stem transmission until you're fully vaccinated. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on October 22.
(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to Italy, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

Italy is currently in a state of emergency because of the pandemic. Although the country has emerged from a third-wave lockdown, case numbers are being studied, and individual regions could bring back restrictions at any point.
After being hit hard in the early stages of the first wave, the country was one of the first to reopen to visitors in 2020. For 2021, entry is largely limited to residents of the European Union, plus a select list of non-EU countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom. The rules differ depending on a traveler's vaccination status and whether they've recently recovered from Covid.

What's on offer in Italy

This is one of Europe's big hitters, known for its historic cities of art such as Florence, one-off wonders such as Venice and the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome.
Incredible food, fantastic wine, unspoiled countryside and a string of beach resorts mean it's always in demand.

Who can go

Italy's borders have been open to visitors for most of 2021, with some restrictions in place.
Countries currently allowed in are divided into two lists:
Arrivals are permitted from most of Europe: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Of these, those who've been fully vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine more than two weeks earlier and can produce a negative test taken within the past 72 hours can enter without having to quarantine.
The same applies to those who have proof of having recovered from Covid-19 within the last three months.
Travelers who have not been vaccinated are required to submit a negative test taken within 72 hours of arrival, quarantine for five days and then take another test.
Only those with "essential" reasons or have been given permission to travel for work or study purposes may enter Italy from Brazil. They must present a negative test taken within 72 hours of arrival, test again within 48 hours, and quarantine for 14 days, before testing negative a third time to end quarantine.
Again, only those who've been given special permission may enter from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Arrivals from this country must quarantine for 10 days in a hotel managed by health authorities -- see below.
List D is for travelers from destinations including Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the US and the UK. Visitors from these destinations will now be subject to the same rules as those listed above -- requiring proof of vaccination and a negative test to avoid being subjected to quarantine.
Travelers from Canada and the US are also allowed in quarantine-free if traveling on a "Covid-tested" flight, whether or not they have been vaccinated.
Tourism is not currently allowed from any other country. Since overnight stays must be registered with the authorities, there's no chance of sneaking in via a secondary country.

What are the restrictions?

Regardless of their vaccination status, all visitors must fill in a self-declaration form. For those from Europe, their EU Digital Covid Certificate is enough.
Travelers coming from List D must provide vaccination status, as well as a negative test (PCR or antigen) taken within 72 hours of arrival. The rules are slightly tighter for those coming from the UK, whose antigen tests must be done within 48 hours of arrival (72 hours is still acceptable for PCRs).
Travelers arriving on "Covid-tested" flights must meet slightly different requirements.
Delta and Alitalia currently run Covid-tested flights from New York JFK and Atlanta to Rome, Venice and Milan, and Boston to Rome.
United is now offering Covid-tested flights from Newark to Milan, and American Airlines is offering JFK to Rome and Milan.
Traveling from Canada? Air Canada has Covid-tested flights from Toronto and Montréal to Rome.
Those arriving on a "Covid-tested" flight must test negative 48 hours before boarding, then again at the airport, and a third time on arrival.
Arrivals from any other approved countries which have not been mentioned above must self-isolate for 10 days on arrival and take private transportation to their destination.
Anyone who has been to Brazil (of those permitted for entry) in the past 14 days, or transited through either destination for more than 12 hours, must present a negative test taken within 48 hours of arrival, and complete a further test on arrival. They must then quarantine for 10 days, with another mandatory test at the end of the period.
Only those with "essential reasons" or who are traveling for study or work purposes may enter from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, presenting a negative test taken within 48 hours of arrival. Anyone who has traveled through India or Bangladesh must now take a further test on arrival, then quarantine for 10 days in a hotel managed by local health authorities (this is likely to be a military facility or a converted building rather than a standard hotel). They must take a further test on day 10 before leaving quarantine.
Any arrivals traveling for essential reasons, from countries which are normally barred from entry, must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

What's the Covid-19 situation?

As the first hit European country, Italy has been through a lot. However, a strict lockdown brought things under control and it held out against a second wave for longer than its European neighbors. The third wave, however, has had a big impact, despite the country going into more or less full lockdown for the first quarter of 2021.
Italy holds Europe's second highest death toll (after the UK), passing the milestone of 100,000 deaths on March 8. However, the numbers are slowing right down as summer continues. Just over 4.7 million people have been infected to date, with the death toll at 131,724 as of October 21. Following a rapid rise in infection rates in July (in which they tripled, and then doubled again), August saw the numbers level out. The week leading up to October 21 saw over 19,000 new cases, which is down from the 32,214 new cases reported in mid September.
The much-delayed vaccination campaign has also picked up speed, finally. Anyone over 12 can now book, though appointments for some are weeks away. Around 80% of the population has now been fully vaccinated.
App Immuni uses Bluetooth to track contact with potential infection. "Green passes" were introduced in summer 2021 (see below).

What can visitors expect

Italian regions are currently graded by their infection and hospitalization rates, running from white (lowest risk) through yellow and amber to red (highest risk). Since the end of August, almost all regions have been designated white. Sicily, which was yellow, returned to white in October.
Everywhere in Italy, masks must be worn at all times inside or on public transport (the outdoor mask mandate has now been lifted). Social distancing restrictions remain in place, including on public transport. Only high-speed trains are not subject to social distancing rules, since anyone accessing them must hold a green pass (see below).
Previous restrictions on travel between regions have also been lifted -- at least, between white and yellow regions. If traveling to, or coming from, an orange or red region, essential reasons must be proven.
Since October 11, social distancing rules have been relaxed. Cultural venues can now operate at 100% capacity. This includes cinemas, theaters and concert venues. Sports stadium capacity have gone up from 35% to 60% for indoor venues, and from 50% to 75% for outdoor venues. Nightclub capacity has gone up to 50% for indoor venues and 75% for outdoor venues. All entrants must have a "green pass" (see below).
White zones are almost back to normal, qualifying as extremely low risk -- where there are under 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. These areas are exempt from restrictions, but regions can bring in their own rules. So far, none has done so.
In yellow zones, bars and restaurants can stay open throughout the day, but only for outdoor consumption. Indoor dining restarted June 1. Diners must be home for the 11 p.m. curfew (which has effectively been abolished since all regions turned white).
In yellow, shops are still open. People can have guests at home -- up to four adults, plus an unlimited number of children. Trips to second homes are allowed, and sports have resumed -- you can now have up to 1,000 spectators outside, and 500 inside, socially distanced. Museums can reopen but on weekends and holidays tickets must be booked at least one day in advance.
In orange zones, it is up to local authorities as to whether people can have home visits. Trips to second homes are allowed, though without mixing with others. Restaurants offer takeout only and people can move freely within their own towns, but cannot leave their area unless for work or an emergency.
In red zones (highest risk), all shops are closed other than grocery stores and pharmacies. People may only leave their homes for work, health reasons, to go to a place of worship or to take exercise once a day.
Since August 6, a "certificazione verde," or green pass, has been needed to enter cultural sites such as museums or galleries, entertainment and sports venues, theme parks, spas, and to eat indoors.
This was extended to included domestic flights, high-speed train travel between regions as well as sea travel on September 1.
The pass shows that the holder has been vaccinated, has tested negative within the past 48 hours, or has recovered from the virus within the past six months.
On September 16, Italy's health minister Roberto Speranza announced that the country would be making the pass mandatory for all workers from mid-October.
This means those who fail to produce a valid certificate will face suspension and could even see their pay halted after five days.
Those vaccinated in other countries are not eligible for the Italian pass, but those with EU vaccination passports will be fine, as there is a reciprocal agreement.
On July 29, the Italian government announced that vaccination certificates from the following countries would also be accepted in lieu of a green pass: Canada, Israel, Japan, UK and US. Those holding a certificate with a QR code can normally have their passes read as an Italian one. Check whether yours is valid by downloading the VerificaC19 app. Travelers from the UK should note that English and Welsh QR codes can be read, but Scottish and Northern Irish certificates cannot be. You should take a paper copy of your certificate if your QR code is not readable.

Useful links

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