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TRAVEL: Italy introduces random Covid testing for arrivals

The Italian government has introduced spot testing for anyone entering the country for tourism, work or any other reason alongside existing testing and vaccination requirements.

Random Covid testing is in place for anyone entering Italy.
Random Covid testing is in place for anyone entering Italy. Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP

Italy tightened its Covid-19 controls at ports, airports, stations and borders with random antigenic or molecular tests for arrivals as of December 25th.

The decision came as part of a new decree to curb the soaring infections fuelled by the Omicron variant, announced by Health Minister Roberto Speranza on Thursday December 23rd.

EXPLAINED: What changes under Italy’s new Covid decree?

If a person is swabbed when entering Italy and tests positive, they will be required to undergo isolation for a period of ten days.

Travellers who have tested positive and who have no suitable accommodation can be required to stay in a ‘Covid hotel’ where they can be monitored by local health authorities, according to the decree text.

This stay would be at the traveller’s own expense, with costs varying from region to region.

“In order to contain the spread of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, the Offices of Maritime, Air and Border Health and of Health Assistance to Aircrew of the Ministry of Health will carry out antigenic or molecular tests on travellers entering the national territory, n a random basis, at airports, maritime and land terminals,” reads the decree.

The Italian government has earmarked over €3.5 million to finance the move throughout 2022.

As well as random testing for all arrivals to Italy, the decree has brought back the obligation to wear masks outdoors, temporarily banned public events and will also shorten the validity of Italy’s ‘green pass’ Covid health certificate.

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Some changes were effective immediately as of Saturday, December 25th and other rule changes are set to come in during January and February.

Authorities have announced other possible changes in response to the spiking Omicron variant in Italy, such as reviewing the seven-day Covid quarantine rules for those who are fully vaccinated.

This came amid predictions the country could soon see 100,000 new cases a day.

Italy marked a record 44,595 coronavirus infections in 24 hours last week, the highest daily number of infections seen in the country since the start of the pandemic.

See the latest news and updates from The Local on Italy’s current Covid-19 health measures and travel restrictions.

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TRAVEL NEWS

What does Italy’s general strike on Friday mean for travel?

Italian trade unions have called a nationwide general strike for Friday, May 20th. Here's a look at how travel within the country will be affected.

What does Italy’s general strike on Friday mean for travel?

The strike has been organised by a range of national and regional trade unions representing various sectors in protest at the Italian government’s spending on the Ukraine war.

Union leaders say the funds should be targeted instead at increasing workers’ wages and, in turn, families’ purchasing power.

Walter Montagnoli, national secretary of the CUB union, told SkyTG24: “The conflict needs to be stopped. […] Draghi’s government is taking military expenses to 2 percent of our GDP: national defence expenses will go from 25 to 38 billion euros, thus reducing the budget for healthcare, education, public transport, the construction industry and, naturally, pensions and wages.”

Demonstrations are set to take place in cities across Italy, including in Milan, Rome, Messina, Palermo, Catania, Cagliari, Turin, Bologna, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Turin, Genoa, La Spezia, Reggio Emilia, Trieste, Bergamo and Taranto, according to media reports.

Strike action is otherwise expected to focus on the transport sector, meaning some disruption to travel plans is likely – depending on where you are in Italy and what time you’ll be travelling.

Here’s a look at what you should know before setting out on your journey on Friday. 

Train services 

Railroad services will be affected for a period of 24 hours, from 9pm on Thursday to 9pm on Friday.

However, Trenitalia has already communicated that Freccia and Intercity trains will run regularly and essential regional services will be guaranteed in the following time frames: 6am to 9am and 6pm to 9pm.

If you’re travelling with Italo, the company has published a list of its guaranteed services on its website

Local public transport 

Local public transport including buses, trams and metro trains in Italian towns and cities will also be affected by the strike action, but the magnitude of disruption to regular services will depend largely upon the area.

Rome and Milan will likely be the most affected cities.

In Milan, metro trains will run regularly until at least 6pm, whereas buses and tram services may be affected between 8.45am and 3pm and after 6pm.

In the capital, local transport providers ATAC and TPL said services will operate normally before 8.30am and from 5pm to 8pm.

If you’ll be commuting, you’re advised to consult the website of your local transport provider before setting off.

Flights

The ENAC (Italian Civil Aviation Authority) confirmed that all flights between 7am and 10am and between 6pm and 9pm will operate as normal.

However, they strongly suggest that travellers contact their airline to check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport.

See ENAC’s website for further information.

Travelling by car

Travelling by car might also be fairly problematic (or more problematic than it usually is) as motorway toll booth staff are set to strike from 10pm on Thursday to 10pm on Friday.

While the impact may differ from one part of the country to another, this is likely to mean a smaller number of toll booths are open and, as a result, lines at some motorway entrances will be longer than usual.

Drivers are advised to consult motorway operator Autostrade per l’Italia’s traffic map for real-time updates.

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