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Italy extends ‘Covid-free’ flights to Canada, Japan and the UAE

Under a raft of new travel measures that come into force from Sunday, Italy will extend the availability of so-called "Covid-free" flights from more countries.

Italy extends 'Covid-free' flights to Canada, Japan and the UAE
Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

Taking these flights allows passengers to skip quarantine on arrival in Italy, providing they test negative for coronavirus at both ends of the journey.

Such flights are currently only available from the US, but routes will soon be added between Italy and Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates, according to a health ministry ordinance published on Friday.

The cities of Naples and Venice will also be served by such flights, in addition to Rome and Milan.

However the government on Friday has not yet confirmed whether it plans to drop the current restrictions on entering Italy from these countries for non-essential reasons, including for tourism.

READ ALSO: Who can travel to Italy right now?

No further details of flight availability were published at the time of the announcement.

The extension of Covid-tested flights was announced as part of a package of rule changes aimed at enticing tourists from countries with higher vaccinaton rates.

Italy’s health ministry also said it was scrapping quarantine requirements for visitors from the European Union, Britain and Israel who can show that they have tested negative for coronavirus.

How do ‘Covid-tested’ flights work?

The US-Italy flights currently in operation are only open to those with an essential reason for travel.

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.

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.

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.

Who is allowed to travel to Italy from outside Europe right now?

The rules on international travel into and out of Italy vary according to country of origin.

Anyone who enters the country must quarantine for ten days, unless they take a Covid-tested flight.

The restrictions are set to change soon, the government has promised, without giving details of when.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the country wants to allow tourists from the United States, Canada and Japan to visit without quarantine if they have been vaccinated,

While the first step is to vaccinate as many residents of Italy as possible before the summer, Draghi said, he also indicated that Italy would revise its strict rules on entering from overseas. 

Stay up to date with Italy’s travel rules by following The Local’s travel section and checking the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).

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TRAVEL NEWS

Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels to discuss the latest Covid situation in China - so could this mark the return of vaccine passports and travel restrictions?

Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

Several EU countries including France, Italy and Spain (as well as non-EU countries including the UK and USA) have already imposed travel restrictions on arrivals from China, over fears of new variants of Covid-19.

The countries announced their restrictions – mostly amounting to compulsory tests and masks – on a unilateral basis at the end of last week, but there have been calls for greater co-ordination at an EU level.

There is now a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability to discuss coordinating measures, with an insider telling Politico: “The idea is to harmonise, but without being extremely prescriptive.”

The meeting has been called by Sweden, which now holds the rotating presidency of the EU. 

So what measures are likely?

At present the countries that have announced restrictions have only imposed testing and mask rules – there is no requirement to show proof of vaccination and no travel bans. All measures only apply only to travellers from China.

A meeting of the European Health Safety Committee last Thursday did not produce any concrete measures, with EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides merely urging member states to coordinate quickly. It was after this that some countries announced their own restrictions.

If anything more concrete comes out of Wednesday’s meeting, it is likely to refer to testing or mask rules only and like the previous EU Covid travel policies, will be advisory for countries to follow.

Because borders are a national competence, countries can impose their own measures without having to consult the EU.

Despite the introduction of the EU digital vaccine passport, countries never managed to entirely co-ordinate their travel rules during 2020 and 2021.

In most EU countries the health pass or vaccine pass apps remain active, and could be used again if necessary. 

Will there be travel bans?

At this stage more draconian restrictions – such as the ‘red lists’ or ‘essential travel only’ rules of 2021 seem unlikely.

Most EU countries have a high level of vaccine cover, so would probably only resort to travel restrictions if new variants – against which current Covid vaccines are not effective – emergence in China (or any other country).  

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