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 January 14.
(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. The current entry regulations are valid until January 15, when they will be revisited.
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.
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 what was essentially a lockdown with border closure over the holiday period, the borders have now reopened.
Low risk countries are Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Rwanda, Singapore and Thailand. Residents of those countries are allowed unrestricted entry.
Also allowed are arrivals from most of Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Arrivals from these countries must produce a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 48 hours of arrival.
Arrivals from the United Kingdom are banned until January 15.
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 48 hours of their arrival. They are also required to fill in a self-declaration form and report to the local health authorities. Anyone arriving without a negative test result must quarantine for 14 days, regardless of any negative tests taken on arrival.
Any arrivals traveling for essential reasons, from countries which are normally barred from entry, must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
Because of the new variant, flights have been banned between Italy and the UK until January 6, and only residents and Italian nationals are allowed to make the journey from the UK until January 15.
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. However, cases started rising in September and spiking sharply in October. It holds Europe's second highest death toll (after the UK), with over 2.2 million infections and over 80,000 deaths as of January 14. On January 13, Health Minister Roberto Speranza warned that the situation was deteriorating nationally.
App Immuni uses Bluetooth to track contact with potential infection.
What can visitors expect
Non-essential travel between towns and regions is not allowed. This was a rule brought in for the holiday period, but has been extended, likely until January 31.
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 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, will be allowed to reopen from January 16. The government is considering banning bars and restaurants offering takeaway after 6 p.m. in an effort to avoid people congregating.
In orange zones (higher risk), restaurants and bars are closed entirely and 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 only for work, health reasons or to go to a place of worship.
The entire country was designated red and orange over the holiday period, turning yellow on January 7 for the first time since December 23. Now, regions are back to receiving individual ratings. Until January 16, the country will be yellow apart from Veneto, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Calabria and Sicily, which are orange.
The rules from January 16 will be announced on January 15, but it is likely that 12 regions will turn orange: Emilia Romagna, Veneto, Lombardy, Marche, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Liguria, Piemonte, Puglia, Umbria, and the autonomous provices of Bolzano and Trento.
The government is also considering creating a "white zone" rating for regions with extremely low risk -- where there are under 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Currently, however, no region would qualify.
The ski season was slated to begin on January 18, but regional leaders now say it is unlikely that there will be a season this year.
The 10 p.m. curfew remains country-wide until further notice.
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