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First passengers take Covid-tested flights from US to Milan

Travellers from New York arrived in Italy's Milan Malpensa airport on the route's first Covid-tested and "quarantine-free" flight on Saturday.

First passengers take Covid-tested flights from US to Milan
A passenger looks on at Malpensa Airport in Milan, on 3 April 2021 after disembarking from the first "Covid-tested" and "quarantine-free" flight from New York to northern Italy. (Photo by Piero Cruciatti / AFP)

The biggest airport in northern Italy has now begun its flight schedule of Covid-tested flights from the United States, making passengers exempt from the 14 days of self-isolation normally required.

“It is the first ever flight from New York since the end of March 2020. It took a year to restart this crucial connection for people and the economy,” said Armando Brunini, CEO of SEA Milan Airports, in a press conference.

“We hope that restrictions will be loosened as soon as possible: if they are safe flights, we must allow their use also for those who fly for tourism,” he added.

READ ALSO: How soon can Italy hope to restart tourism this summer?

Armando Brunini, CEO of SEA Milan Airports, talks to journalists at Malpensa Airport in Milan on April 3rd 2021, after the first “Covid-tested” and “quarantine-free” flight landed from New York to northern Italy. Passengers were tested by healthcare workers for Covid-19 upon disembarking. (Photo by Piero Cruciatti / AFP)

Around 100 people arrived from the Big Apple following the Italian Health Ministry’s decision to permit travellers to enter Italy on these Covid-tested services.

Passengers have already been taking such special quarantine-free flights to Rome Fiumicino airport. But the Ministry extended the scheme to Italy’s second-largest airport with a date set until at least the end of June 2021, as stated in a circular issued on March 10th.

To be permitted on the flight, passengers must test negative in a rapid antigen test for coronavirus no more than 48 hours before boarding and they must get tested again immediately on arrival.

An airport hostess waits to assist passengers going through a test area to undergo a rapid antigen swab test for Covid-19 at Malpensa Airport in Milan on April 3rd 2021, after disembarking from the first “Covid-tested” and “quarantine-free” flight from New York to northern Italy. (Photo by Piero Cruciatti / AFP)

Those wishing to travel must also fill in a digital location form before boarding, the Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF).

After completion of this document, passengers receive an email with a QR code, which must be given at the check-in desk in order to be allowed on the flight.

Also during check-in, travellers must provide a completed self-declaration form, specific just to these Covid-tested flights, which states why you are entering Italy from abroad.

A medical worker shows a Covid-19 rapid antigen test, in the test area at Malpensa Airport. (Photo by Piero Cruciatti / AFP)

There’s more paperwork still. Upon landing in Italy, travellers must present another self-declaration form to the police. Again, this relates to Covid-tested flights only.

READ ALSO: 

A passenger undergoes a swab test for Covid-19 at Malpensa Airport in Milan.  (Photo by Piero Cruciatti / AFP)

At present, the travel scheme between the United States and Milan covers passengers coming from New York (JFK) on Delta Air Lines flight DL 118 and American Airlines flight AA198.

International travel into and out of Italy is still restricted, with rules varying according to country of origin. But, there are hopes that tourism will resume this summer throughout Europe with the anticipated EU “health passport”.

For the latest updates on travel to Italy, see here.

Member comments

  1. Can the flights be used in the other direction (i.e. Italian residents visiting the US for leisure purposes) or is it strictly for US residents visiting Italy?

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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