Editor's Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on April 6.
(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.
Italy is currently in a state of emergency until April 30 (extended from January 31) due to the pandemic, and most of the country is in a state of lockdown as it battles with a third wave.
After being hard hit in the early stages of the first wave, the country was one of the first to reopen to visitors in June, although entry is largely limited to European Union residents.
The pandemic has caused political upheaval, with prime minister Giuseppe Conte, who had won plaudits for his handling of the crisis, resigning on January 26. He was replaced by economist Mario Draghi on February 13.
On March 30, Italy introduced mandatory quarantine for any arrivals from a European country. From April 7, this will be extended to arrivals from pretty much anywhere in the world (of those who are allowed entry).
What's on offer in Italy
This is one of Europe's big hitters, known for its historic cities of art such as Florence, one-off wonders like Venice and the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome.
Incredible food, fantastic wine, unspoiled countryside and a string of beach resorts mean it's always in demand.
Who can go
Following closures over the Christmas and New Year period, the borders reopened in January 2021.
Arrivals are permitted from most of Europe: Andorra, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechetenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Until now, arrivals from these countries have had to produce a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 48 hours of arrival, and must report to the local health authorities on arrival. However on March 30 the government announced a five-day quarantine on European arrivals, or Italians arriving from European destinations. It began as a temporary measure to discourage Easter travel, but was renewed April 6. All arrivals will have to take a negative test at the end of the five days in order to leave quarantine.
Austria is the only EU country not on that list. Anyone who has been to Austria in the past 14 days, or transited through for more than 12 hours, must not only present a negative test taken within 48 hours of arrival and another on arrival, but must quarantine for 14 days, with another mandatory test at the end of the period.
Arrivals from the United Kingdom, other than Italian residents or those with urgent needs, were banned until April 6, and those arriving had to quarantine for 14 days. From April 7, quarantine has been cut to five days. It is not yet clear whether non-residents and those on non-essential trips will be able to travel.
Israel is also included on the five-day quarantine list.
Only Italian residents may travel to Italy from Brazil. They must present a negative test taken within 72 hours of arrival, test again within 48 hours, and quarantine for 14 days, before testing negative a third time to end quarantine.
Non-European countries allowed entry are Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Rwanda, Singapore and Thailand. Residents of those countries are allowed unrestricted entry, however they must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival at a place of their choice, and must not take public transport to their destination. Former stalwart Japan has been removed from this list/
Tourism is not currently allowed from any other country, including the United States. Since overnight stays must be registered with the authorities, there's no chance of sneaking in via a secondary country.
What are the restrictions?
Arrivals from Europe must provide a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of their arrival. They are also required to fill in a self-declaration form, report to the local health authorities, and quarantine for five days before testing negative to end quarantine. From April 7, arrivals from the UK and Israel will be in this category.
Those from approved countries outside Europe must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.
Anyone who has been to Austria in the past 14 days, or transited through for more than 12 hours, must not only present a negative test taken within 48 hours of arrival and another on arrival, but must quarantine for 14 days, with another mandatory test at the end of the period. Permitted travelers arriving from Brazil are in the same category.
Any arrivals traveling for essential reasons, from countries which are normally barred from entry, must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
What's the Covid-19 situation?
As the first hit European country, Italy has been through a lot. However, a strict lockdown brought things under control and it held out against a second wave for longer than its European neighbors. But it wasn't to last. Cases started rising in September and spiking sharply in October, and after a strict Christmas and New Year lockdown, a a suspected third wave took off in February 2021 and is gathering pace. Most of the country is again under lockdown conditions, and case numbers continue to rise despite the restrictions.
Italy holds Europe's second highest death toll (after the UK), passing the milestone of 100,000 deaths on March 8. Over 3.5 million people have been infected to date, with the death toll at over 111,000 as of April 6.
App Immuni uses Bluetooth to track contact with potential infection.
What can visitors expect
Non-essential travel between towns and regions is not allowed.
Italy's state of emergency has delegated power to individual regions, so it depends where you are. But across the country, masks must be worn at all times in public, even outside.
On November 6, the country was divided into zones, depending on infection levels: red, orange and yellow. In January 2021, they created a fourth tier: a white zone. On February 27, Sardinia became the first region to qualify, although it has now lost its status.
In yellow zones (lowest case numbers), bars and restaurants close at 6 p.m.; restaurant groups are limited to six people. Local festivals have been banned, and theaters, cinemas and gyms are closed. Shopping centers are closed at weekends. Museums, however, reopened January 16, but are closed on weekends. Bars must not sell takeaway drinks after 6 p.m. in an effort to avoid people congregating, although restaurants and bars which sell food can over takeaway services. People can travel once per day, within their own region.
In orange zones (higher risk), restaurants and bars are closed for eating in, but can offer takeaway. Regional borders are closed. People can move freely within their own towns, but cannot leave their area unless for work or an emergency.
In red zones (highest risk), all shops are closed other than grocery stores and pharmacies. People may only leave their homes for work, health reasons, to go to a place of worship or to take exercise once a day. Schools are currently closed.
White zones are almost back to normal, qualifying as extremely low risk -- where there are under 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. These areas are exempt from restrictions, but regions can bring in their own rules.
Currently, the entire country is under some kind of lockdown. As of April 6, the designations are as follows:
There are no white or yellow zones.
Calabria, Campania, Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont, Puglia, Tuscany, Valle d'Aosta are red. All other regions are orange.
The ski season was slated to start on February 15, but the day before, Draghi's new government delayed it to March 5. With ski areas located in orange and red zones, those plans are now on hold.
The 10 p.m. curfew remains countrywide until further notice, and nowhere can bars sell takeaway drinks after 6 p.m.
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