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).
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.
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.
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).