How have Italy’s travel rules changed under the new emergency decree?

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Tourists stroll along an embankment in Venice on September 9, 2020, on the eighth day of the 77th Venice Film Festival, during the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. - It's been a bad year for Venice. In November, the highest tides in over 50 years left it submerged -- the famous Italian lagoon city drenched, despondent and economically devastated. Fast forward to February when the surrounding region, Veneto, saw Italy's first death from coronavirus -- an epidemic that went on to kill over 35,000 people in the country. Finally this month, the opening of the prestigious Venice film festival on September 2 was trumpeted as a sign of hope and renewal for the beloved yet beleaguered city. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

The good news about Italy’s latest emergency decree, signed on Monday, is that it didn’t include any new restrictions.The bad news though for those hoping to travel to Italy at the moment is that it doesn’t loosen many restrictions, either. 

The biggest change is the new travel ban exemption for those in “stable” relationships – meaning people can now travel from outside Europe to visit their partners in Italy. (See below for more details)

And though they haven’t changed for everyone, the rules overall have been getting more complex over the past weeks and months. To help make sense of them, the latest guidelines now divide travellers into six categories, based on the country they are coming from. Here’s a quick overview of these categories, outlining the rules travellers should be aware of. 

Category A: San Marino and Vatican City Travellers from the two microstates within Italy face no limitations.

 Category B: Unrestricted travel is permitted from most EU countries (except for Croatia, Greece, Malta, Spain, Romania and Bulgaria) as well as Schengen zone countries, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Andorra, and Monaco, “Travel to/from EU countries (except for Romania and Bulgaria) is allowed for any reason, therefore also for tourism, and without the obligation to self-isolate on return. The requirement to fill in a self-declaration form remains,” the Italian government states. Travellers entering Italy from Spain, Greece, Croatia or Malta must get tested for coronavirus either within 72 hours of departing or 48 hours of arriving. Provided they test negative, they are not obliged to quarantine. 

 Category C: People travelling from Romania or Bulgaria are required to quarantine for their first 14 days in Italy.  The rule applies to anyone who has been to either country in the two weeks before arriving in Italy, however briefly. “Travel from/to these countries is allowed for any reason but requires mandatory self-isolation and supervision by the competent health authorities on returning to Italy; travellers must fill in a self-declaration form and may reach their final destination in Italy only by private means,” the Italian government states

Category D: Countries on the EU “safe list”. These are currently: Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Rwanda, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay “Travel from these countries is allowed for any reason, therefore also for tourism,” the latest guidance states. (Travel to these countries is also permitted by Italy, but depends on the rules put in place by those countries’ governments.) “However, on returning to Italy, travellers must self-isolate and undergo supervision by the competent health authorities; they are required to fill in a self-declaration form and reach their final destination in Italy only by private vehicle.” Italy differs from most other EU countries, which do not require travellers from “safe list” countries to undergo quarantine on arrival. 

Category E: Rest of the world. Travel from elsewhere, including from the US, remains possible for essential reasons only and arrivals will still face a 14-day quarantine on arrival. “Travel to and from the rest of the world is allowed only for specific reasons, such as work, health, study, absolute urgency, or returning to one’s home or residence,” the government guidelines state. “Travel for tourism is not allowed.” Italian/EU/Schengen citizens and their family members, as well as holders of residence permits and their family members, are allowed to enter Italy from these countries.  

The new decree contained a travel ban exemption for those in “stable” relationships – meaning people can travel from these countries to visit their partners in Italy even if they are not married or cohabiting, which as not previously allowed. See more details in a separate article here. All travellers from these countries “must self-isolate and are required to fill in a self-declaration form, and reach their final destination in Italy only by private vehicle,” the government guidance states. Find more details on what is classed as “essential” travel and possible exemptions hereCategory F: Banned countries. The decree keeps in place a complete ban on entry from countries on Italy’s no-travel list.  There are 16 countries currently included: Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Colombia, Kuwait, North Macedonia, Moldova, Oman, Panama, Peru, Dominican Republic, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo.

The ban applies to anyone who has been to any of those countries within the past 14 days, even if they were just transiting there. 

Direct and connecting flights to and from these countries are suspended until further notice.

Citizens of Italy, another EU country, the Schengen Zone or the UK who live in Italy permanently are allowed to return home from one of the countries on the ‘risk list’.