For members


What will Italy’s coronavirus rules be for summer 2021?

As Italy plans to open up to international tourism for the summer, we look at what restrictions are likely to be in place during the holiday season.

What will Italy's coronavirus rules be for summer 2021?
A lifeguard checks the distance between sunbeds on Fregene beach, near Rome. Photo: Tiziana FABI / AFP

With the news that Italy will soon be issuing a ‘green pass‘ to allow tourism, including from outside the EU, many people have already booked their tickets to Italy for this summer – or are planning to do so soon. But what can they expect when they arrive?

Following the Italian prime minister’s announcement on Tuesday that Italy is “ready to welcome back the world”, tourism businesses in the country are reporting a boom in bookings and many of The Local’s American readers say they’ve already confirmed their Italian holiday plans for 2021.

READ ALSO: Who can travel to Italy right now?

This is despite the Italian government not yet publishing full details of who will be able to travel and when this summer, and what requirements they will face.

Despite a recent easing of Italy’s coronavirus rules, health measures still in place nationwide include a 10pm curfew and a mask-wearing requirement in public at all times, indoors and outdoors.

And though some things are expected to change, it looks unlikely that the restrictions will be as relaxed as much as they were in summer 2020.

Will masks and curfews remain?

It’s likely to be a different holiday experience compared to last summer, when Italy had surpassed its first wave of Covid-19 infections and had restarted its tourism sector.

After months of some of Europe’s harshest lockdown measures, the country relaxed almost all restrictions as the warmer weather approached. But amid reports of hotels not following rules and a large number of cases linked to partying holidaymakers, there was an abrupt tightening of the rules again in mid-August.

Italy’s usually packed beaches are likely to be much more spaced out, making places limited. Photo: Michaela/Unsplash.

The government looks inclined to set more cautious regulations for tourists this year.

Wearing a mask, sanitising your hands and keeping distanced from others are almost certain to remain required.

The Higher Health Institute (ISS) president, Silvio Brusaferro, said in a press conference that it will still take time to relax coronavirus restrictions, including the curfew at 10pm.

MAP: Where in Italy are coronavirus cases falling fastest?

“First of all we need to keep the Rt (reproduction rate) below the safety threshold of 1. Then we need to reduce the pressure on the health services again and get closer to that threshold of 50 cases per week per 100,000 inhabitants, which would allow us to resume a systematic tracking of cases,” he added.

He also pointed to the need for wider vaccne coverage: “Until we have a large part of the population vaccinated, we need to be prudent and progressive,” he said.

The Italian government has said it will review the curfew in mid-May, potentially extending it until 11pm – though this isn’t guaranteed, and there’s no sign the measure could be removed.

A lifeguard wearing a protective facemask on the beach of Fregene near Rome. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

What about beaches?

It will also be the second year of following anti-Covid guidelines at the beach. That means that beach operators will once again need to distance sunbeds and limit the amount of tourists taking up their patch of sand.

The president of the Italian Bathing Syndicate (Sindacato Italiano Balneari), Antonio Capacchione, wrote in a circular to members, viewed by news agency Adnkronos, that “as regards to the bathing establishments, the decree law on re-opening refers to regional provisions of last year or possibly those already issued by the regions this year.”

There are no restrictions currently in place to prevent them operating, so it means the beaches are open.

“There are no limitations on access to beaches. For these reasons, the latest government decree does not contain a date for the reopening of the beaches, as there is no law that closes them. To make it simple, the beaches are open, so operators can start,” he added.

Some of last year’s rules will roll over to 2021

The rules last year dictated that there should be 10 square metres to each umbrella and at least 1.5 metres between each sunbed (though the exact distance required varied by region).

You should not have to wear a mask on a sunbed, as long as the operator has followed these guidelines.

Swimming pools will also be under restrictions, like last year. The density of crowding in the pool is calculated at 4 square meters of water area per person or 7 square meters for pools where you can swim – as opposed to just bathing.

Hot and humid areas will be closed again, which includes saunas and steam rooms, for example.


Restrictions for hotels and holiday resorts

Where accommodation is concerned, such as hotels, resorts, hostels and farm stays (agriturismi), tourists will need to follow anti-Covid measures including one-metre distancing from others and mask-wearing to reduce the risk of infection.

Throughout Italy, it is compulsory to wear a mask in indoor and most outdoor public places. Certain spots don’t require you to wear a mask, such as once you’re seated at your table in a restaurant.

If you’re planning to rent a holiday home, you may be charged extra cleaning fees to ensure the property is compliant with anti-Covid regulations.

What you need to know about travel to Italy

Just as your holiday in Italy will be subject to restrictions so too will be the journey into the country.

Italy is set to allow travel using the green pass to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result – though the details of the scheme are not yet published.

READ ALSO: ‘It’s time to book your holiday’: Italian PM announces new travel passes for summer

Italy currently has varying rules in place depending on the country you’re travelling from and your personal circumstances.

The rules this summer will also depend on your own country’s restrictions. For example, Australia’s travel ban remains in place, while the US is currently warning against travel to Italy and many other countries.

The UK is soon to announce its traffic light system for international travel. Here’s what it means for travelling to Italy.

The Italian Foreign Ministry’s interactive questionnaire will help you determine what the rules are on travel from your country..

Rule changes may depend on citizen ‘responsibility’

As the situation evolves according to the health data and the vaccination rollout, these restrictions could be modified before and throughout the summer.

The number of new cases of Covid-19 in Italy is declining overall, but it’s still a long way from being under control. The vaccination campaign is picking up pace, but it’s still falling short of its targets.

Fabio Ciciliano, a member of the Technical and Scientific Committee told newspaper Il Messaggero: “Let’s be clear: holidays will be quieter, but precautions must continue. I’m talking about masks, distance and hygiene.”

The nation has not yet met the threshold at which infections can be properly controlled. The incidence of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants must approach 50 – but it’s currently more than double that on average, and much higher in many regions, according to the the most recent weekly health data report from the Italian health ministry and the ISS.

The report pointed to the new strains of Covid-19, which are likely to impact any holidays in Italy this year.

“The now prevalent circulation in Italy of the b.1.1.7 variant (known as the English variant) and the presence of other variants that can partially evade the immune response, requires us to continue to maintain particular caution and gradualness in the management of the epidemic,” the report stated.

Ciciliano said, “I want to be very clear: if the behaviour is not rigorous, a new increase in cases that will force subsequent closures will be inevitable. And you cannot think that everything will depend on the Ministry of the Interior regulations, or of the police forces.

“You can watch over the streets and squares, but you can’t do more than that. The problem is the lack of attention to personal behaviour. A lot depends on the sense of responsibility of each citizen,” he added.

For more information on international travel to and from Italy, see the Foreign Ministry’s website and check the restrictions in your destination country with the appropriate embassy.

You can find the current Italian government travel information for your country here.

Find all our latest news updates on travel to, from and within Italy here.

Member comments

  1. Have you read Di Maio’s statement that he made on Saturday?
    Are US tourists going to be admitted in mid-May or in June?
    Why hasn’t this been reported or reviewed?
    Please help!

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Q&A: What you need to know about Italy’s West Nile virus outbreak

As Italy records a surge in cases of West Nile fever, we look at what the disease is and where in the country it's spreading.

Q&A: What you need to know about Italy's West Nile virus outbreak

Mosquitos are unfortunately one downside of summer in Italy. But as well as being a nuisance, they may also pose a health risk in the country – one of the few in Europe to record cases of West Nile virus (WNV)

READ ALSO: Cases of West Nile fever surge in northern Italy

Last week Italy recorded 50 more cases of the mosquito-borne virus, bringing the total number of infections to 144 according to the latest report from Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS).

This marked a 53-percent increase in cases against the previous week, while ten people have died so far.

As the number of infections continues to rise, here are the answers to the most pressing questions about the disease and the outbreak in Italy.

What is it?

The West Nile Virus (WNV) is a single-stranded RNA virus that can cause West Nile fever in humans.

It’s a member of the Flavivirus family together with other endemic viruses such as the Zika and Dengue viruses.

The virus was first identified in 1937 in Uganda’s West Nile district but has since spread to many other parts of the world, to the point that it is now considered indigenous to Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. 

Carried by birds, West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes.

The West Nile virus is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes of the Culex species, which infect humans and other mammals through their bite, according to Italy’s health ministry.

There is no evidence that human-to-human transmission is possible.

Where are cases being reported in Italy?

Infections have been largely concentrated in the north of the country, especially in the Veneto region, where six people have now died of the disease. Other deaths were recorded in Lombardy, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna.

The city of Padua, which is located in Veneto’s mainland, around 35 kilometres away from the Adriatic coast, is currently regarded as the hotspot of the virus. 

It isn’t yet clear why Veneto has been the worst-hit region so far, but experts fear that its marshy lowlands might be the perfect breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes. 

A mosquito of the Culex species viewed under a microscope.

Mosquitoes of the Culex species, a specimen of which is pictured above, are responsible for transmitting the West Nile Virus to humans and other mammals. Photo by Jon CHERRY Getty Images / AFP

How severe is the outbreak in Italy?

West Nile virus is not new to Italy. However, this summer has brought the highest number of cases recorded yet.

National infection levels remain relatively low but the country has by far the largest number of cases in Europe.

According to the most recent report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), dated August 3rd, 94 out of 120 recorded cases were in Italy.

Greece had 23 reported cases. Romania and Slovakia had two and one respectively. 

Italy is the only European country that has reported fatalities.

What are the symptoms?

According to the Italian Higher Health Institute (ISS), around 80 percent of infected people show no symptoms whatsoever.

In symptomatic cases, however, symptoms generally resemble those of a common flu and include fever, headaches, nausea and diarrhoea. 

The infection is usually only dangerous for people with weakened immune systems such as the elderly, and the most severe symptoms occur in fewer than one percent of infected people.

In healthy people, the virus is unlikely to cause more than a headache or sore throat, and symptoms generally last only a few days.

According to the data currently available, around one in 150 infected people can show symptoms as serious as partial vision loss, convulsions and paralysis. 

In very rare cases (around 0.1 percent, or one in 1000) the disease can cause brain infections (encephalitis or meningitis) which may eventually be fatal.

Brazilian biologists handle mosquito larvae.

There is currently no vaccine against West Nile disease, though several are being tested. Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP

Is there a cure?

There is no vaccine against West Nile fever. “Currently vaccines are being studied, but for the moment prevention consists mainly in reducing exposure to mosquito bites,” the ISS states.

There is also no specific treatment for the disease caused by the virus.

Patients showing the more serious symptoms are usually admitted to hospital and treated with IV fluids and assisted ventilation.

What should you do to protect yourself?

Seeing as there is currently no vaccine against the virus, the best way to protect oneself is by reducing exposure to mosquitoes as much as possible.

Italian health authorities have listed a number of official recommendations to help residents avoid mosquito bites. These include: 

  • Use repellent
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers when being outdoors and especially during ​​mosquitoes’ peak activity times, i.e. sunrise and sunset
  • Use mosquito nets on your windows or sleep in rooms with air-conditioning and keep the windows closed
  • Make sure there are no pools of stagnant water around your house

See more information about West Nile virus in Italy on the health ministry’s website.