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Traveling to Italy during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go


CNN Staff

Editor's note: Coronavirus cases are in flux across the globe. Health officials caution that staying home is the best way to stem transmission until you're fully vaccinated. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on May 11.

    (CNN) -- If you're planning to travel to Italy, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

On April 1, Italy emerged from its two-year state of emergency -- which it had been in since January 31, 2020. However, this is still one of the most cautious countries in Europe, with restrictions still on the ground. Case numbers are being continuously monitored, and regions are following a traffic light-style system with varying restrictions dependent on hospital capacity and infection rates.

Since March 2021, entry has been widened to arrivals from anywhere in the world. The entry regulations differ depending on a traveler's vaccination status. Testing restrictions for entry have also been eased considerably, and the non-vaccinated are allowed entry, even for tourism.

What's on offer in Italy

This is one of Europe's big travel hitters, known for its historic cities of art such as Florence, one-off wonders such as Venice and the seat of the Roman Catholic Church at Vatican City, situation inside Italy's capital of Rome.

Incredible food, fantastic wine, unspoiled countryside and a string of beach resorts mean it's always in demand.

Who can go

Italy's border regulations were considerably simplified on March 1, 2022. Instead of countries being rated by risk level, it now depends on your vaccination status.

Non-EU arrivals are now subject to the same, lighter entry regulation rules as EU arrivals. This means that everyone is allowed entry to Italy for any reason, quarantine-free, as long as they are fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from Covid-19. This includes arrivals from countries previously on List E, which allowed only essential travel.

What are the restrictions?

The previous lists of countries, formulated by risk, were abolished on March 1. Now, the entry regulations are the same for everyone, regardless of their country of origin.

Anyone flying to or from Italy must wear an FFP2 mask -- for more information, see below.

Additionally, they must present a certificate of a completed initial vaccination cycle within the past nine months, or a complete cycle with booster, which can be longer than nine months ago.

Alternatively, you can present a certificate of recovery from Covid-19 within the past six months, or a negative test result, taken within 48 hours (antigen) or 72 hours (PCR) of departure. This means that fully vaccinated arrivals no longer have to take a further test before travel to Italy.

Anyone not in possession of the correct documentation must quarantine for five days on arrival, and then test negative before exiting quarantine.

Non-vaccinated children younger than 12 do not have to quarantine, as long as they are traveling with fully vaccinated adults, and children younger than 6 are exempt from any testing requirements.

Arrivals no longer have to fill out a passenger locator form.

What's the Covid-19 situation?

As the first hit European country, Italy has been through a lot. Restrictions have consistently brought things under control, with Italy holding out longer than European neighbors in each subsequent wave. However, the winter waves of 2020-21 and 2021-22 have taken huge tolls.

Italy holds Europe's second highest death toll (after the United Kingdom), passing the milestone of 100,000 deaths on March 8, 2021. Nearly 16.9 million people have been infected to date, with the death toll at 164,731 as of May 11, 2022.

With the arrival of the Omicron variant, case numbers soared. Cases reached a record high the week of January 10, with 1,269,976 cases recorded. Before Omicron, the record infection rate for the pandemic was 248,000 infections in a week, registered in November 2020.

Numbers are now yo-yoing. Having dived in February and early March -- under 280,000 were recorded in the week leading up to March 9 -- they rose to 507,000 cases registered in the last week of March, and just under 300,000 in the week leading up to May 11.

Around 90% of the adult population has now been fully vaccinated, and children are now being vaccinated as well. A vaccine mandate for the over-50s was announced on January 6. All over-18s can now receive a booster dose four months after their second dose.

App Immuni uses Bluetooth to track contact with potential infection.

What can visitors expect

The color-coded traffic light restrictions by region (from white to red zones) were abolished April 1. The rules are now the same countrywide.

The nationwide outdoor mask mandate ended on February 11, and the widespread indoor mask mandate on May 1. However, masks must still be worn in some indoor areas: on public transport, in cinema, theaters, concert halls and indoor sports arenas, as well as in hospitals. This will be until at least June 15. Your mask must be a high-grade FFP2 for all those places except hospitals.

While it is no longer mandatory, the government recommends still wearing masks indoors, and many -- if not most -- Italians continue to wear them. Additionally, individual venues, including galleries and museums, may impose their own mask mandates. If caught not wearing a mask where it is mandated, you can be fined up to $450.

Social distancing restrictions remain in place, including on public transport -- except for high-speed trains, which can run at capacity. Authorities will be given the authority to halt any train on which a passenger is showing any symptoms of Covid-19.

Only two people may sit in the back of a taxi, if they are part of the same family.

Green passes and super green passes:

On May 1, the government dropped the requirement to show a green pass everywhere a tourist would want to go. That means you no longer need to show proof of vaccination to eat out, visit galleries or take public transport.

However, if you end up visiting a hospital or care home you will need a "super green pass" or "certificazione verde rafforzata," showing that you have been vaccinated (including a booster) or have recovered from the virus within the past six months. A regular pass can also be obtained by a negative test within 48 hours.

Those vaccinated in other countries are not eligible for the Italian pass, but EU vaccination passes are recognized and scanned as domestic ones are. Those holding a certificate with a QR code -- including UK NHS certificates -- can normally have their passes read as an Italian one. Check whether yours is valid by downloading the VerificaC19 app.

If your QR code is not recognized by the app, or you don't have one, you must show a paper copy of your certificate from your home country.

Foreign vaccine certificates are not subject to the same time limits as Italian green passes. For now, a full cycle including booster is valid indefinitely. A full initial cycle with no booster is valid six months.

Italian Health Ministry

Immuni track and trace app

Countries currently allowed in

Verifica C19 app (iPhone)

Verifica C19 app (Android)

Our latest coverage

Can't get to Italy right now? You can always buy a house for 1 euro -- the price of a cup of coffee.

A new website has just launched offering visit-free sales around the country. If you're not looking to buy, the country's alberghi diffusi, or scattered hotels, are the perfect travel solution in the time of Covid-19.

Or check out our list of small towns perfect for social distancing.

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