Until at least August 30th, a trip to Italy means two coronavirus tests and five days in quarantine for any travellers who have been in the UK in the past fortnight.That includes people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
With the new rules throwing summer plans into question, here’s a guide to what quarantining in Italy actually involves.
Who has to quarantine?
Compulsory quarantine applies to anyone who has been on UK territory in the 14 days before arrival in Italy, regardless of nationality.
That means anywhere in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, or British bases on Cyprus.
It also applies to people who transited through any of these places.
It applies regardless of whether you enter Italy by plane, ferry, train, coach, private car or any other means of transport.
Are coronavirus tests still required?
Yes: one in the 48 hours before entering Italy, and a second after five days in quarantine.
You must test negative to be allowed to travel, but a negative result will not allow you to avoid quarantine, which is mandatory regardless. A second negative test allows you to end your isolation period.
The UK does not allow people to get tested for travel via the National Health Service, so plan to pay for a private test before your departure.
Italy accepts either molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen swabs for both the pre-travel and post-quarantine tests.
Children aged six or younger are not required to get a test, but should still quarantine.
Are there any other travel requirements?
Before your trip, you should also fill out a European Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF), giving details of where you’re departing from and where you’ll be staying. The form is available online here.
You should also notify the prevention department of the local health authority in the part of Italy you’ll be staying in within 48 hours of your arrival. Depending on where you’re going, this may involve filling out an online form, sending an email or calling a regional helpline. Find contact details here.
When does quarantine start and end?
The official guidance from the Italian Health Ministry states that arrivals must “undergo fiduciary isolation and health surveillance for five days, and undergo an additional molecular or antigenic test at the end of the 5-day isolation period”.
There has been some confusion about whether the day you arrive counts as ‘day one’ or ‘day zero’, and the Health Ministry’s website and ordinances do not specify this.
As you’ll be reporting to the local health office (ASL) in the region of Italy you’re staying in, they will be responsible for telling you exactly when your quarantine period should end, and when you should get tested. Find contact details for local health authorities here.
Once that period is up, you can leave isolation in order to get a test. That’s as long as you have not developed any Covid-19 symptoms and unless your local heath authority has instructed you otherwise.
Whether you can get tested by a private provider such as a pharmacy or have to go through the public health service depends on the rules in your region: ask your local health authority or the regional Covid helpline for advice. In any case, continue avoiding contact with others until you receive confirmation of a negative result.
Anyone with symptoms should remain in isolation and inform their local health authority.
Where should you quarantine in Italy?
Unlike people arriving from India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, who are obliged to quarantine in designated “Covid hotels”, travellers from the UK can quarantine anywhere of their choosing.
That includes your own residence, a second home or holiday rental.
You can also quarantine at a shared property, such as a friend’s house, but you should avoid close contact with anyone else living there (unless they are also prepared to observe quarantine).
Hotels may refuse to allow you to quarantine on their property: contact the accommodation before booking to find out what its policy is.
Wherever you decide to quarantine, you should go directly there when you arrive in Italy and settle in for the entire five days: moving from one location to another during your isolation period would be considered a breach of quarantine.
If you are unable to find anywhere suitable to quarantine in Italy or cannot reach your destination safely, the local authorities reserve the right to put you in accommodation of their choosing, such as a designated hotel, at your expense.
How should you travel there?
You must not take public transport from the airport or ferry terminal where you arrive in Italy: arrange to reach your final destination privately, for instance in a rental car or a taxi.
A friend or relative is allowed to come and pick you up in their own car, but you should limit your contact with them as much as possible.
What can you do while you’re quarantining in Italy?
Stay on your own property and avoid contact with anyone else staying there who is not also in quarantine.
You are not allowed out to go to the shops or to take out rubbish, so make arrangements to stock up on essentials before you arrive or have groceries delivered.
Will anyone check up on you?
Local health authorities reserve the right to telephone or even visit you in person to check that you’re observing quarantine.
As for whether they will or not, reports across Italy vary: some travellers say they were contacted and others report not hearing from the authorities at all.
Penalties for failing to quarantine can be stiff, including thousand-euro fines, so assume the rules will be enforced and act accordingly.
Are there any exceptions?
People transiting through Italy in a private vehicle for 36 hours or less do not have to quarantine.
The same goes for people travelling for “proven reasons of work, health or emergency” for 120 hours (five days) or less, according to the Health Ministry.
There are also exemptions for transport crew, diplomats, business travellers and certain students, depending on how long they plan to stay.
There are no exceptions for people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
How long will quarantine remain mandatory for UK arrivals in Italy?
Italy’s testing and quarantine requirements for UK travellers will remain in place until at least August 30th, according to the Health Ministry’s latest ordinance.
Depending on the health situation by then, they may be extended or revised.