TRAVEL: Italy brings back Covid testing requirement for all EU arrivals

Italy on Tuesday extended its state of emergency until March and tightened travel restrictions for arrivals from other countries within the European Union.

Passengers at Rome's Fiumicino airport.
Rules for travel to Italy from within the EU are to change. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

All travellers to Italy from other EU countries must take a coronavirus test before departure and unvaccinated arrivals must quarantine for five days, according to a new ordinance signed by the Italian health minister on Tuesday night.

The new rules mean all EU travellers who are double or triple-vaccinated against Covid-19 must now also show a negative test result from within the 24-hour period before departure (for rapid antigen tests, also known as lateral flow or LFTs) or the 48 hours before departure (for PCR tests).

READ ALSO: What will Italy’s Covid restrictions be this Christmas?

Meanwhile, those travelling to Italy who have not completed a full vaccination cycle must take a pre-departure test, undergo a five-day quarantine period on arrival, and then test for release.

Children aged under 12 are not subject to the five-day quarantine rules if they are travelling with adults who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid, reported the Ansa news agency on Wednesday, citing government sources.

The health ministry’s new ordinance extends the provisions made for minors under a previous ordinance issued on October 22nd.

Italy defines a full vaccination cycle as two doses of a jab approved by the European Medicines Agency (Pfizer, Moderna or Astrazeneca) or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Previously, EU arrivals had to show proof of vaccination, recent recovery or a negative test.

The new rules are in effect from Thursday, December 16th until at least January 31st.

READ ALSO: ‘Fit to fly’: Are Covid lateral flow tests valid for travel to Italy?

The change effectively brings rules for people arriving in Italy from within the European Union in line with the existing rules for non-EU arrivals.

For those arriving from the UK and northern Ireland, the Italian health ministry’s ordinance stated that molecular (PCR) tests must now be taken within the 48 hour period before departure and rapid antigen (LFT) tests in the 24 hours before arrival, instead of 48 as was previously the case.

The rules for arrivals in Italy from the UK and northern Ireland otherwise remain unchanged under the new update.

For other non-EU countries on travel list D, including the United States and Canada, the new ordinance effectively extends existing measures and there are no changes.

The ordinance also extends Italy’s ban on travel from eight countries in southern Africa implemented following the detection of the Omicron variant.

The new rules came amid concern about a new wave of coronavirus infections sparked by the spread of the new Omicron variant in Europe.

Early data suggests it can be more resistant to vaccines and is more transmissible than the Delta variant, which currently accounts for the bulk of the world’s coronavirus cases.

The Italian government also approved an extension to the nationwide state of emergency, which will stay in place until March 31st, 2020.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What happens if I test positive for Covid-19 while visiting Italy?

Italy’s state of emergency, which was first introduced on January 31st 2020, gives greater powers to the national government and regions authorities, making it possible for laws to be passed quickly in response to the changing health situation.

The Italian government is relying heavily on increased vaccination coverage, with a target of fully vaccinating 90 percent of the population aged over 12, to avoid introducing a vaccine mandate for the general population.

As part of the drive to increase vaccine coverage, Italy made booster shots available to everyone aged 18 and over from December 1st.

Italian regions will also begin vaccinating children aged 5-11 starting from Wednesday after approval was given last month.

Almost 86 percent of the eligible population over 12 years old has now completed the vaccination cycle in Italy, while some 12.7 million booster shots have been administered so far according to the latest official figures.

For further details about Italy’s current Covid-19 health measures please see the Italian Health Ministry’s website (available in English).

Member comments

  1. We are coming from US on Dec 29th. Our understanding was that we needed to take a PCR test within 72 hours of arrival in Italy.. This article now implies that those getting a PCR TEST coming from everywhere need to have it done within 48hours. Is this correct. Thanks for any help.

  2. I’m travelling from Switzerland to Italy on Dec 26th. God knows where I can get an antigen test on Christmas Day in Graubünden?

    1. I am doing exactly the same thing- driving from Switzerland to Italy on the 26th! I also don’t know where and how to get the rapid antigen test.

    2. Wow, I sympathize. I wonder if your lodging or the local tourist office can get you in touch with the pharmacy that’s open on Christmas and you can find out if they offer antigen testing that day. (In Italy I believe there always has to be a pharmacy open every day but they don’t necessarily do testing). It appears the Zurich airport is 2.5 hours away and could do PCR testing if you went the day before Christmas; it is supposed to send you results within a few hours after the test (or by noon the next day if submitted in the evening). But I would call them to make sure that there’s no exception for Christmas/Christmas eve. Good luck!

  3. Update to those who kindly replied…. So as we can get an immediate result from an antigen test, we can do it at the Apotheke in our local ski resort which is open on 26th…Get the result and set off immediately…
    Try to route via a ski resort and book a test there.

  4. Article above says test must be done before 24/48 hours before departure. Regulations referenced on gov’t websites say 24/48 hours before arrival. Anybody have an answer to this?

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Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

It will still be obligatory for passengers to wear masks on flights to Italy until mid-June, despite the end of the EU-wide requirement on Monday, May 16th, the Italian government has confirmed.

Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

The Italian government reiterated on Friday that its current mask-wearing rules remain in place until June 15th, reports newspaper Corriere della Sera.

This means the mask mandate will still apply to all air passengers travelling to or from Italy, despite the end of an EU-wide requirement to wear masks on flights and at airports across the bloc from Monday.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?

National regulations take precedence, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed when announcing the end of the EU rules.

“Wearing face masks at airports and inflight should be aligned with national measures on wearing masks in public transport and transport hubs,” they said in a joint statement published on May 11th.

READ ALSO: Why are so many Italians still wearing face masks in shops?

“If either the departure or destination States require the wearing of face masks on public transport, aircraft operators should require passengers and crew to comply with those requirements inflight, beyond 16 May 2022.

“Further, as of 16 May 2022, aircraft operators, during their pre-flight communications as well as during the flight, should continue to encourage their passengers and crew members to wear face masks during the flight as well as in the airport, even when wearing a face mask is not required”.

The Spanish government also said on Thursday that air passengers would have to continue wearing face masks on planes.

Italy’s current rules specify that higher-grade FFP2 masks should be worn on all forms of public transport, including buses, trams, regional and high-speed trains, ferries, and planes.

Though rules were eased in some settings from May 1st, masks also remain a requirement until June 15th at Italy’s cinemas and theatres, hospitals and care homes, indoor sporting event and concert venues, schools and universities.