Unlocking the World

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

CNN StaffUpdated 20th January 2021
Italy remains one of Europe's least affected countries.
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 20..
(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

Italy is currently in a state of emergency until April 30 (extended from January 31) due to the pandemic.
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.
Countries currently allowed in, with quarantine, are divided into two lists:
Low risk countries are Australia, Japan, 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.
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, Andorra, Monaco and Switzerland. Arrivals from these countries must produce a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 48 hours of arrival, and must report to the local health authorities on arrival.
Arrivals from the United Kingdom (other than Italian residents) are banned until at least March 5, and until January 31, nobody who has been in or transited through Brazil in the last 14 days may enter Italy (not even Italian residents). In addition, flights to and from Brazil have been banned.
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.
Those from the approved countries outside Europe must self-isolate for 14 days 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 were 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 March 5.

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 83,000 deaths as of January 20. On January 13, Health Minister Roberto Speranza warned that the situation was deteriorating nationally, although by January 19, experts were saying that things were looking up, with the Christmas restrictions beginning to show in the case loads.
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 until February 15, with the possibility of extending it in the next emergency decree.
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, reopened January 16. 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 only for work, health reasons or to go to a place of worship.
In both red and orange zones, people can travel once per day, but only within their comune, or town borough. If the comune is small (fewer than 5,000 inhabitants) they can travel within a 30 kilometer radius, though not to the provincial capital.
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.
On January 16, Lombardy, Sicily and the autonomous province of Bolzano were turned red.
The following regions were designated orange: Abruzzo, Calabria, Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Liguria, Marche, Piedmont, Puglia, Umbria, Valle d'Aosta and Veneto.
That leaves just Basilicata, Campania, Molise, Sardinia, Tuscany and the autonomous province of Trento as yellow.
The government has also created a "white zone" rating for regions with extremely low risk -- where there are under 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. These areas would be exempt from restrictions. Currently, however, no region would qualify.
The ski season was slated to begin on January 18, but it has been put off until at least February 15, when the rules will be revisited. However, 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, and nowhere can bars sell takeaway drinks after 6 p.m.

Useful links

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.