Earlier this month Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi stated that Italy could be open to foreigners by mid-May, but he did not specify which foreign travelers and whether those from the United States would be included.
Now, Italy’s Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi Di Maio has shed a little more light on who is likely to be able to enter Italy and when.
“The aim is to reopen to visitors from foreign countries that have reached a high level of vaccination, loosening some measures as early as mid-May,” Di Maio said in a recent Facebook post.
“We’re working on overcoming the ‘mini quarantine’ for anyone from European countries, the U.K. and Israel, if they’ll be equipped with a negative swab, vaccination certificate or if they’ve been cured within the past six months,” Di Maio wrote.
He added, “Same thing for the USA, where the COVID-free flights will be enhanced and since June we aim to overcome the ‘mini quarantine’ on arrival.”
It’s not clear exactly what Di Maio is referring to regarding the COVID-free flights, but Delta Air Lines currently offers two sets of quarantine-free flights from the U.S. to Europe—one from Atlanta to Rome, and one from Atlanta to Amsterdam—that allow passengers who are legally able to enter Italy and the Netherlands to do so without a quarantine. On the quarantine-free Rome flights, all Delta passengers and crew are required to undertake a series of COVID-19 tests (and procure negative results) to bypass Italy’s quarantine requirements.
Currently, travelers coming to Italy from most of Europe must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular or antigen test taken within 48 hours prior to arrival in Italy, according to Italy’s Foreign Ministry. They must quarantine for five days and then take a second COVID-19 antigen test. Travelers from outside of Europe who are currently allowed to enter Italy—including those arriving from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Rwanda, and Thailand—as well as those traveling from any other country, including the U.S., who meet the current exceptions (i.e., they are traveling for work or health reasons, for study, “absolute urgency,” or are returning to their home or dwelling) must provide a negative COVID-19 test, quarantine for 10 days, and then take a second COVID-19 test (both tests can be either molecular or antigen).
On May 4, Prime Minister Draghi said Italy is set to introduce a health pass sometime in May that will facilitate travel, Reuters reported. He said it was important to provide clear and simple rules to ensure that tourists can once again travel freely in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
His statement came one day after the European Commission proposed a reopening of Europe’s external borders that could go into effect as early as June.
“Let us not wait until mid-June for the EU pass. In mid-May tourists can have the Italian pass,” Draghi said following a May 4 meeting of G20 tourism ministers, according to Reuters. He added, “The time has come to book your holidays in Italy.”
The majority of Italy is in what the government deems the “yellow zone” (the country’s regions are designated as red, orange, yellow, and white zones depending on the epidemiological situation). A curfew remains in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. While in the yellow zone, outdoor dining is permitted but indoor dining at bars, cafés, and restaurants is not. Museums and cultural institutions are open with capacity limits. Masks are required indoors and outside for the foreseeable future.
Effective April 29, Italy has banned all travel from India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, with the exception of Italian residents.
Travel to the European Union, including Italy, has been off limits to most foreign visitors since March 2020, when Europe’s leaders imposed international travel restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“We propose to welcome again vaccinated visitors and those from countries with a good health situation,” said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.
Under the Commission’s proposal, entry would be granted to all those fully vaccinated with EU-authorized shots, which include Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson. European leaders are set to discuss the proposal this week, and the European Commission hopes it could be implemented by June.
European officials have also proposed introducing a Digital Green Certificate aimed at facilitating travel within Europe. The documents would be provided to EU residents who can prove they have been vaccinated, can provide a negative coronavirus test, or can prove they have recovered from COVID-19.
“Until the digital green certificate is operational, member states should be able to accept certificates from non-EU countries,” the Commission said, adding that unvaccinated children should be able to travel with their vaccinated parents if they provide a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
Associated Press contributed reporting.