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

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 29.

(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. Most of the country is now emerging from a two-month lockdown as it battled 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 has been 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, Austria, 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.

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. Non-residents are now allowed to travel from the UK. However, note that the PCR test requirement has changed from 72 hours ahead of arrival to 48 hours.

Israel is also included on the five-day quarantine list.

Only Italian residents may travel to Italy from Brazil and India. 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. Arrivals from the UK and Israel were added to this category on April 7.

Those from approved countries outside Europe must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

Anyone who has been to Brazil or India (of those permitted for entry) in the past 14 days, or transited through either destination for more than 12 hours, must not only present a negative test taken within 48 hours of arrival and another on arrival. They a must quarantine for 14 days, with another mandatory test at the end of the period.

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. Most of the country spent much of the first quarter of 2021 under lockdown conditions, with case numbers continuing 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. Nearly four million people have been infected to date, with the death toll at over 120,000 as of April 29.

App Immuni uses Bluetooth to track contact with potential infection.

What can visitors expect

The ban on non-essential travel between towns and regions has been suspended as of April 26. People can now travel freely between yellow regions. If traveling to, or coming from, an orange or red region, essential reasons must be proven.

Italy’s state of emergency has delegated power to individual regions, so localized lockdowns are always possible. But across the country, masks must be worn at all times in public, even outside. There is a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in place.

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.

The rules for different zones were changed again on April 26.

Now, in yellow zones, bars and restaurants can stay open throughout the day, but only for outdoor consumption. Indoor dining will be allowed from June 1. Diners must be home by 10 p.m. for the curfew.

Shops are open. People can have guests at home — up to four adults, plus an unlimited number of children. Trips to second homes are allowed, and sports have resumed — you can now have up to 1,000 spectators outside, and 500 inside, socially distanced. Museums can reopen but on weekends and holidays tickets must be booked at least one day in advance. Theaters, concert halls and cinemas have also reopened, with 50% capacity, 1-meter social distancing, and obligatory advanced reservations.

In orange zones, it is up to local authorities as to whether people can have home visits. Trips to second homes are allowed, though without mixing with others. Restaurants offer take-out only and 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.

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.

From April 26, the designations are as follows:

There are no white zones. Sardinia remains red.

Basilicata, Calabria, Puglia, Sicily and Valle d’Aosta are orange. All other regions are yellow.

The 10 p.m. curfew remains countrywide until further notice, though it is expected to be extended by an hour in June.

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CNN’s Julia Buckley contributed to this report

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

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