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COVID-19 RULES

Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?

With Covid-19 mask requirements still in place in Italy, readers have asked for clarification on where the rules apply and what type of mask should be used.

Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?
A passenger wearing a mask at Rome's Fiumicino airport. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Question: ‘We’re travelling to Italy soon. Will we need to wear a mask on the plane or when we arrive, and what type of mask do we need?”

After repeated changes to the rules on when and where face masks must be worn in Italy, many readers with plans to travel to Italy in the coming weeks have written to The Local to ask for clarification.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Your questions about travel to Italy and Covid rules answered

While the mask-wearing rules were eased in some settings such as bars and restaurants from May 1st, they were not removed altogether – with Italy’s Covid measures remaining stricter than many other European countries.

If you’re flying to Italy, you’ll need to be aware that masks will remain obligatory for passengers on flights to and from Italy and at Italian airports until mid-June, as the Italian government confirmed on Friday, despite the end of an EU-wide requirement on Monday, May 16th.

This is because Italy’s current rules specify that higher-grade FFP2 masks should be worn on all forms of public transport, including buses, trams, regional and high-speed trains, ferries, and planes until June 15th.

National regulations take precedence, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed when announcing the end of the EU rules.

READ ALSO: Where do you still need to wear a mask in Italy from May 1st?

FFP2 face masks are required on public transport in Italy. Photo by BARBARA GINDL / APA / AFP

Until the same date, masks also remain a requirement at Italy’s cinemas and theatres, hospitals and care homes, indoor sporting event and concert venues, schools and universities.

And they’re still a common sight in many other venues, despite no longer being mandatory.

Some readers living outside of the EU have noted that they are able to get hold of an FFP2 mask, as these are not sold in their home country.

Because FFP2 masks are not widely available in most countries outside of Europe, Intercontinental flights to Italy should allow other types of higher-grade masks to be used in place of FFP2. 

For example, current guidance from Italian national carrier ITA airways says: “it is mandatory to wear FFP2/KN95/N95 face masks on board all flights.” 

If in doubt, passengers are advised to ask their airline for advice before travelling.

The Italian government does not appear to have issued any specific guidance on the use of KN95/N95 face masks once you’re in the country, however.

While there have been media reports of passengers being turned away from using public transport in Italy if they attempt to board while wearing a surgical or cloth mask, no reports mention passengers being denied boarding when wearing an N95 mask.

READ ALSO: Why are so many Italians still wearing face masks in shops?

In any case, travellers should be able to easily pick up some FFP2 masks upon arrival in Italy.

They are readily available at pharmacies and general stores around the country, and prices are not as high as they were earlier in the pandemic, with a pack of ten now usually costing around 7-8 euros.

Member comments

  1. We bought a big pack of KN95 masks with us and have not had any issues. Possibly because one has to look quite closely to tell the difference between KN95 and FFP2.

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VENICE

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

Venice is introducing a new system to discourage day-trippers in hopes of curbing problems with overtourism in the popular hotspot. Here is what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

After years of discussing a possible “tourist tax”, the city of Venice has confirmed it will make day-trippers pay from €3 to €10 for access to the city centre starting on January 16th.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the goal of the new tourism fee is to discourage day tourism at certain times of the year and encourage overnight tourism. Day-trippers will have to pay a fee, but those who stay overnight continue only to have to pay the city tax of €2 to €5, according to a government press release.

The Commission and the City Council will now examine the regulatory text for the final green light scheduled for the summer.

“We are the first in the world to introduce this system, and we are aware that not everything will work well from the beginning, but we will be ready to improve in the course of work. We want to guarantee the tourist the best quality of the visit and make sure that the city is able to give visitors all the services they need”, said Tourism Secretary Simone Venturini.

READ ALSO: After flooding and coronavirus, is it time Venice stopped relying on tourism?

How much will I have to pay?

The contributo di acesso, or access contribution, will cost from €3 to €10, depending on factors such as tourism numbers for the day and season.

The city will determine a certain threshold of tourists, after which people will be required to pay higher sums. Travellers are encouraged to book in advance to avoid price increases.

Does the payment have to be made in advance?

The government said that nobody would be denied entry to Venice, meaning a pre-registration is not necessary. However, the mayor said that those who book their visit in advance would be “rewarded”. The reward will likely discount the fee.

How will the system work? Where do I pay?

According to the City of Venice, the payment is an alternative to the city tax. It will be required from every person that goes to the old city centre of Venice, as well as other major tourist destinations and islands in the region.

READ ALSO: 16 surprising facts about Venice to mark 16 centuries of the lagoon city

A single payment guarantees access to the old town and the smaller islands.

Tourists will be able to pay through an online and “multilingual” platform where they will receive a QR code to present in case of controls. Tickets should also be available to buy in connection with public transport – so if you are arriving by train, it will be possible to buy the train ticket and the entry pass together.

Who is excluded or exempt from the payment?

There are several exceptions to the payment, according to the website. Among them are residents from the Comune di Venezia, those who work or study there, and those who own homes in the city.

Additionally, exceptions include those born in the Comune di Venezia, children under six years of age, people with disabilities and their accompanying person, public workers, volunteers, people visiting family members, prisoners, or attending funerals, and many others.

Residents of the Veneto region “up to the thresholds that will be set by a specific Council resolution” are also exempt.

Those who stay overnight and, therefore, already pay the city tax through their hotel or short-term rental booking are also exempt from the fee.

The city of Murano, in the metropolitan region of Venice (Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash)

What about people arriving on cruises?

Venice is a very popular stop for cruise ships and people visiting the city on a cruise tour will also have to pay the fee as they disembark in the old town. However, the City of Venice said they might determine a lump-sum measure in agreement with the relevant carriers.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why more of Italy’s top destinations must limit tourist numbers

Which smaller islands are included?

Only one ticket and payment is required for those travelling to multiple islands, including Venice. The islands that are part of the group are:

  • Lido di Venezia
  • Pellestrina
  • Murano
  • Burano
  • Torcello
  • Sant’Erasmo
  • Mazzorbo
  • Mazzorbetto
  • Vignole
  • S. Andrea
  • La certosa
  • S. Servolo
  • S. Clemente
  • Poveglia

What if I simply don’t pay?

If you fail to produce proof of payment or that you are exempt from the fee, the sanction is from €50 to €300. The fine is the same in the case of people making false statements trying to obtain exemptions or reductions.

Additionally, visitors who don’t pay in advance will have to pay the full €10 fee.

For more info click here.

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