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COVID-19

Will travel to and from Italy be open this Christmas?

As many people are making Christmas plans, will rapidly rising Covid cases in Europe lead to more travel restrictions to and from Italy over the festive season? Here's what you need to know.

Italy's latest travel rules ahead of the Christmas season.
Italy's latest travel rules ahead of the Christmas season. Photo by Piero Cruciatti / AFP

With soaring infection rates throughout Europe, governments across the bloc are working to contain the spread of a fourth wave of coronavirus.

So far, the numbers in Italy remain comparatively low and the government is working on new measures aimed at keeping the Covid infection rate down before Christmas – without resorting to business closures or lockdowns, at least unless the situation dramatically worsens in the coming weeks.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Answers to your questions about Italy’s travel rules

But even if Italy manages to contain cases in the country through its high vaccination rate and use of the green pass health certificate, will it put new travel restrictions on those with higher numbers?
 
Italy’s health ministry’s current ordinance on the rules covering all international arrivals came into force on October 26th and is set to remain in place until December 15th.
 
So far, Italy has given no further indication on whether any travel restrictions will be tightened or relaxed after that date.
 
Here’s what we know so far about the likelihood of extra travel restrictions over Christmas.

Within the EU/Schengen zone

Current rules – Presently, EU and Schengen zone countries are classified as List C countries in Italy, which means travel to/from these countries is permitted without the need to provide a reason.

However, there may be regional restrictions and it is possible that individual countries in this category have entry restrictions.

Therefore, the authorities recommend checking the country profile on Italy’s travel information website to check first.

Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Passengers arrivng in Italy from List C countries need to show a Covid-19 health pass, which proves the bearer has been fully vaccinated at least fourteen days previously, has recovered from Covid-19 or has tested negative.

Passes issued in any EU or Schengen zone country are recognised at the Italian border.

Since it was rolled out in July the EU’s Covid certificate has allowed for those vaccinated, recovered or who tested negative, to travel freely within the bloc without the need for subsequent tests or quarantine.

Travellers must also complete an online form called a digital Passenger Locator Form, or dPLF. Find it here.

New restrictions?

Since the introduction in July of the EU digital vaccine pass, travel has been pretty seamless within the EU.

However, with cases now surging in parts of the EU, the consensus between member states has fractured as certain European countries have begun to impose additional travel restrictions on each other once again,

The European Commission now says it recognises the need to tighten the rules of the Covid certificate. For the latest on how this system could change, see here.

The Italian government could bring in its own additional rules, too, and there has been some Italian media speculation about a potential quarantine requirement over the Christmas holidays for people travelling to Italy from countries with high infection rates, including countries within Europe.

It is possible that other non-EU countries may also impose their own extra restrictions on travel to or from Italy. But at the moment, Italy’s health situation is better than that of most of its European neighbours, so this looks unlikely to happen ahead of the Christmas holidays.

The UK

Current rules – As things stand, the UK is one of Italy’s List D countries, which signifies a higher risk category than the countries mentioned above.

As of August 31st, vaccinated and tesed UK travellers do not have to undergo a five-day quarantine on arrival and that rule remains current, with no changes in place for UK travellers wanting to enter Italy.

It’s necessary to show a negative result of a molecular or antigenic swab test carried out within 48 hours prior to entry into Italy, and certification issued on completion of the vaccination cycle.

This must be with a vaccine recognised by the EMA (European Medicines Agency).

A sign at Heathrow Airport which says 'Welcome to the UK Border'

Photo by Ben FATHERS / AFP

Travellers must also complete an online form called a digital Passenger Locator Form, or dPLF. Find it here.

As the UK’s case numbers continue to be much higher than Italy’s, it’s possible that tighter travel rules could be introduced. But Italy has so far made no announcement on restricting entry to travellers from Britain.

New restrictions? Covid cases are around four times as high in the UK as in Italy, but so far no new containment measures have been confirmed beyond December 15th where travel between Italy and the UK is concerned.

From the UK’s side, British travel rules don’t always appear to be driven by logic – it has previously imposed travel restrictions such as quarantine on countries with significantly lower Covid rates.

However, the UK government hasn’t announced further travel restrictions for arrivals from Italy since it changed its much-criticised Covid border rules on October 4th.

Reader question: I’ve had one vaccine dose after recovery from Covid – what are my travel options?

Since then, fully vaccinated arrivals from Italy no longer need to quarantine or to take a pre-departure Covid test either. Since October 24th, travellers can take a ‘cheaper’ Day 2 test on arrival, which can be antigen tests (known in the UK as lateral flow tests) rather than the more costly PCR tests.

As for travel into Italy, if rates in the UK continue to plateau or fall, then extra restrictions seem unlikely.

The US, Canada, and Japan

Passengers from the US, Canada and Japan must present a Covid recovery certificate or proof of vaccination when entering Italy.

A negative result of a molecular or antigenic swab test must also be carried out within 72 hours prior to entry into Italy. For a full guide to the rules, see here.

New restrictions?

Most recent travel restrictions have tended to focus on non-EU countries and Italy’s lists for travel have been updated multiple times over the summer and autumn.

However, there is no sign yet that Italy is planning to impose new restrictions ahead of Christmas, and so far Italy has been keen to allow vaccinated travellers from these countries to enter the country.

Italy agreed to recognise the vaccination status of travellers from five non-EU countries including the US, Canada and Japan earlier this year due to their high rates of immunisation, and low infection rates at the time.

Rest of world

Under Italy’s current travel ordinance, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Brazil now rejoin all other List E countries, due to concerns about the high rates of Covid in these countries.

Those arriving from Israel are now included among all other List D countries, meaning only a vaccination certificate showing the holder has undergone a full vaccination cycle for at least 14 days will be accepted as valid.

With the latest ordinance, a number of countries were moved from the less-restricted List D to the more-restricted List E. 

Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Lebanon, Moldova, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, and Serbia joined the “Rest of World” in List E.

Meanwhile Bahrain, Chile, Kuwait, Rwanda, and Uruguay are new List D appearances, meaning travel is now allowed from these countries for tourism purposes.

Travel to Italy from List E countries (all countries not included in Lists A, B, C, or D) for tourism purposes is not allowed. Travel from these countries is only permitted for reasons related to work, health, study, absolute urgency, or return to your primary residence.

Travellers coming from these countries were previously subject to their own specific travel restrictions, with travel only allowed under certain specific circumstances.

All passengers arriving from any country must complete an EU passenger locator form that they can show to border officials on entry.

It looks unlikely that these rules will be relaxed this winter as the pandemic continues, but the next review of these rules will come on December 15th.

For more information on the requirements for travel to Italy:

You can also call the Italian coronavirus information line:

  • From Italy: 1500 (toll-free number)
  • From abroad: +39 0232008345 , +39 0283905385

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

You can keep up with the latest news updates via our homepage or travel news section.

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For members

TOURISM

Why Italian resorts are struggling to fill jobs this summer

Italy's tourist season is expected to be back in full swing this year - but will there be enough workers to meet the demand?

Why Italian resorts are struggling to fill jobs this summer

Italy’s tourist numbers are booming, sparking hopes that the industry could see a return to something not far off pre-pandemic levels by the summer.

There’s just one catch: there aren’t nearly enough workers signing up for seasonal jobs this year to supply all that demand.

READ ALSO: Will tourism in Italy return to pre-pandemic levels this year?

“There’s a 20 percent staff shortage, the situation is dramatic,” Fulvio Griffa, president of the Italian tourist operators federation Fiepet Confesercenti, told the Repubblica news daily.

Estimates for how many workers Italy is missing this season range from 70,000 (the figure given by the small and medium enterprise federation Conflavoro PMI) to 300-350,000 (the most recent estimate from Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia, who last month quoted 250,000).

Whatever the exact number is, everyone agrees: it’s a big problem.

READ ALSO: Dining outdoors and hiking: How visitors plan to holiday in Italy this summer

Italy isn’t the only European country facing this issue. France is also short an estimated 300,000 seasonal workers this year. Spain is down 50,000 waiters, and Austria is missing 15,000 hired hands across its food and tourism sectors.

Italy’s economy, however, is particularly dependent on tourism. If the job vacancies can’t be filled and resorts are unable to meet the demand anticipated this summer, the country stands to lose an estimated  €6.5 billion.

Italy's tourism businesses are missing an estimated 20 percent of workers.
Italy’s tourism businesses are missing an estimated 20 percent of workers. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

“After two years of pandemic, it would be a sensational joke to miss out on a summer season that is expected to recover strongly due to the absence of workers,” said Vittorio Messina, president of the Assoturismo Confesercenti tourist association.

Different political factions disagree as to exactly what (and who) is to blame for the lack of interest from applicants.

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

Italy’s tourism minister Massimo Garavaglia, a member of the right wing League party, has singled out the reddito di cittadinanza, or ‘citizen’s income’ social security benefit introduced by the populist Five Star Movement in 2019 for making unemployment preferable to insecure, underpaid seasonal work.

Bernabò Bocca, the president of the hoteliers association Federalberghi, agrees with him – along with large numbers of small business owners.

“What’s going to make an unemployed person come to me for 1,300 euros a month if he can stay sprawled on the beach and live off the damned citizenship income?” complained an anonymous restauranteur interviewed by the Corriere della Sera news daily.

“Before Covid, I had a stack of resumes this high on my desk in April. Now I’m forced to check emails every ten minutes hoping someone will come forward. Nothing like this had ever happened to me.” 

READ ALSO: MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

Italy is experiencing a dire shortage of workers this tourist season.
Italy is experiencing a dire shortage of workers this tourist season. Photo: Andrea Pattaro / AFP.

Five Star MPs, however, argue that the focus on the unemployment benefit is a distraction from the real issues of job insecurity and irregular contracts.

There appears to be some merit to that theory. A recent survey of 1,650 seasonal workers found that only 3 percent of the people who didn’t work in the 2021 tourist season opted out due to the reddito di cittadinza.

In fact the majority (75 percent) of respondents who ended up not working over the 2021 season said they had searched for jobs but couldn’t find any openings because the Covid situation had made it too uncertain for companies to hire in advance.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

Others said the most of jobs that were advertised were only for a 2-3 month duration, half the length of the season (again, due to Covid uncertainty), making it not worth their while to relocate.

Giancarlo Banchieri, a hotelier who is also president of the Confesercenti business federation, agrees that Covid has been the main factor in pushing workers away from the industry, highlighting “the sense of precariousness that this job has taken on in the last two years: many people have abandoned it for fear of the uncertainty of a sector that has experienced a terrible time.”

The instability brought about by two years of Covid restrictions has pushed many workers away from the tourism sector.
The instability brought about by two years of Covid restrictions has pushed many workers away from the tourism sector. Photo: Andrea Pattaro / AFP.

“I said goodbye to at least seven employees, and none of them are sitting at home on the citizen’s income,” Banchieri told Repubblica. “They have all reinvented themselves elsewhere; some are plumbers, others work in the municipality.”

READ ALSO: OPINION: Mass tourism is back in Italy – but the way we travel is changing

To counteract the problem, Garavaglia has proposed three measures: increasing the numbers of visas available for seasonal workers coming from abroad; allowing people to work in summer jobs while continuing to receive 50 percent of their citizen’s income; and reintroducing a voucher system that allows casual workers to receive the same kinds of welfare and social security benefits as those on more formal contracts.

Whether these will be enough to save Italy’s 2022 tourist season remains to be seen, but at this stage industry operators will take whatever fixes are offered.

“The sector is in such a dire situation that any common sense proposals much be welcomed,” the Federalberghi president Bocca told journalists.

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