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COVID-19 RULES

Italy to keep quarantine rules in place as Covid cases rise

Italy will not scrap its mandatory Covid isolation period, the health minister has said, with the government split over whether to follow the ‘English model’ of managing the pandemic.

Italy to keep quarantine rules in place as Covid cases rise
Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 in Italy must undergo at least one week of isolation. Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP

The Italian health minister said he’s not considering scrapping the country’s existing Covid isolation requirements, following weeks of disagreement within government and among health experts over whether the rule should remain in place.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said “no” when asked by Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Saturday if he’ll end the isolation requirement for positive cases.

“At the moment such a thing is not in question,” he added. “Anyone who is infected must stay at home.”

“There are 650,000 people in solitary confinement right now, and it is unimaginable to tell them they can move around.”

Though Italy has now scrapped almost all other Covid-related health measures – including all entry requirements for travellers – the country still requires anyone who tests positive while in the country to self-isolate for at least one week (see the bottom of the article for more details).

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Speranza, who is known for taking a cautious line when it comes to managing the pandemic, also decided in mid-June to the keep the requirement to wear masks on public transport in place throughout the summer.

The minister’s clarification came after weeks of debate over whether the isolation rule should also now be dropped or not, with the government reportedly split over the issue.

One of Speranza’s two deputy health ministers, Andrea Costa, has spoken out in favour of scrapping the rule, while the other, Pierpaolo Sileri, said the government should keep it in place.

Several prominent politicians within Italy’s broad coalition government, as well as health experts, have been calling for an end to all restrictions amid a debate over the adoption of a ‘modello inglese‘ or ‘English model’ of managing the pandemic: in England, isolation when infected is only a recommendation, not a requirement. 

Others, including epidemiologist Carlo La Vecchia, meanwhile suggested Italy move towards adopting a ‘Swiss model’: one week of isolation when positive, and no testing requirement at the end of that period.

But as the Covid infection and hospitalisation rates rise again – with the latest official health data showing a 60 percent rise in new infections in just seven days – Speranza doesn’t appear keen to try out either idea in Italy.

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

While Speranza told Repubblica “the challenge now is to focus on individual responsibility”, he said certain situations called for rules to remain in place.

“We mustn’t forget what we’ve been through,” he said.

“The most vulnerable must be protected. If they encounter the virus, their lives are still at risk. Their protection does not depend only on their own behavior, but on all of us … for example by putting on a mask in risky places.

“When circulation was very low, I said [the pandemic] was not over, and now I ask everyone once again to be cautious.”

Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

What are Italy’s isolation rules?

In Italy and beyond, any type of Covid isolation period is commonly referred to as ‘quarantine’ (quarantena); though it should be noted that Italy’s health authorities define quarantine as an isolation period “carried out when a healthy person has been exposed to a Covid-19 case, with the aim of monitoring symptoms and providing for the early identification of cases”.

This is as opposed to isolation (isolamento), which is used “to separate people suffering from Covid-19 from healthy ones in order to prevent the spread of infection”.

The health ministry’s existing rules state that anyone who tests positive while in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days – if they’re fully vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid.

Italy’s health ministry defines this as either being vaccinated and boosted (at any time – there’s no time limit or expiry period for those who’ve had a booster shot); or as having completed the primary vaccination cycle or recovered from Covid within the past 120 days (and being able to show certification proving this).

For anyone who is not classed as fully vaccinated or recently recovered, the isolation period is extended to 10 days.

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell).

Reader question: How do Italy’s Covid quarantine rules work for travellers?

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine in order to be allowed out.

Read more about getting tested while in Italy in a separate article here.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

The prospect of potentially having to spend up to three weeks in isolation is obviously concerning for people visiting Italy on holiday this summer – with a number of The Local’s readers saying they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer if the rules remain in place.

As some countries require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure, visitors at the tail end of their journey could also be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week – or longer – in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter the country, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/have recently recovered from Covid.

For more information about how Italy’s health regulations may apply to you, see the Italian health ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

Member comments

  1. The rule requiring passengers to wear masks on public transport is a bit of a joke. I have been using trains extensively for well over a month and find that a large percentage of the riders are disregarding this rule. What’s worse is the total disregard by conductors to enforce the law. I don’t know what function they perform on trains as they rarely bother to check anyone’s ticket.

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COVID-19 RULES

At a glance: What are Italy’s Covid-19 rules this autumn?

Italy has very few pandemic-related restrictions left, but there are still some rules you should be aware of.

At a glance: What are Italy's Covid-19 rules this autumn?

After over two years of Covid-related social and health measures, there are currently very few restrictions in place across Italy. 

But, as Italy’s head of state, Sergio Mattarella, warns that “the virus hasn’t been fully defeated yet” and “collective responsibility” is needed, there are still some rules you need to be aware of. 

READ ALSO: Italy eases Covid measures ahead of new government 

Whether you regularly reside in Italy or are simply planning to visit in the coming weeks, here’s a quick overview of Italy’s Covid rules for the autumn. 

Travel to and within Italy

Travel to Italy for any reason, including tourism, is currently allowed from all countries.

As of June 1st, people are no longer required to show proof of Covid vaccination, recent recovery from the virus or a negative molecular or antigen test result in order to enter the country.

That was the last remaining Covid-related rule in place for travellers – the requirement for arrivals to complete an EU digital passenger locator form (dPLF) had been lifted on May 1st.

Masks

The requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (buses, trains, trams, ferries, etc.) lapsed on Friday, September 30th, after outgoing PM Mario Draghi chose not to renew the mandate in question. 

However, Draghi and his cabinet did extend the requirement to wear face masks in all healthcare settings and care homes, with the rule now expected to expire on October 31st. 

It’s worth noting that anyone refusing to comply with face mask rules can still face fines ranging from a minimum of €400 to a maximum of €1000.

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

Medical staff members walk in a corridor at the Covid-19 intensive care unit of Cremona hospital, in Cremona, northern Italy, on January 11, 2022.

Those in healthcare setting and care homes in Italy must continue to wear masks until at least the end of October. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP.

Though it’s no longer a requirement, the government also continues to advise people to wear masks in all crowded areas, including outdoors.

As for the private sector, all employees working in settings where social distancing is not practicable will be required to wear FFP2 face masks.

The above mandate should expire on October 31st, though a further extension cannot be ruled out at this moment in time.

Green passes

Italy no longer requires people to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a recent negative test result to access indoor settings or public venues.

That means you won’t need to show any form of health certificate in order to eat in a restaurant, visit a museum or use public transport.

However, if you wish to visit a friend or family member in an Italian hospital or care home you will need to produce proof of vaccination or recovery, or the negative result of a molecular or antigen test taken within 48 hours prior to your visit.

READ ALSO: What is Italy’s Covid vaccination plan this autumn?

Proof of vaccination, recent recovery or a negative Covid test is required for those visiting friends or family members in Italian care homes. Photo by Thierry ZOCCOLAN / AFP.

If you’re a foreign national holding a foreign health pass, the Italian government recognises proof of vaccination or recovery issued abroad, provided that it meets certain requirements

For further information on the types of vaccines accepted in Italy, please see the following government memo.

Italian healthcare staff are still required to produce a valid ‘super green pass’ (i.e. the national health pass certifying that the holder has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or has recovered from it) to be able to work.

The above mandate is scheduled to expire on December 31st, with a further extension having already been ruled out by Marcello Gemmato, head of health policy for election winners Brothers of Italy. 

Quarantine rules

Italy still requires anyone who tests positive for coronavirus while in the country to self-isolate, though the minimum isolation period was cut from seven days to five in early September.

In order to exit quarantine, the infected person must be symptomless (with the exception of symptoms relating to loss of taste or smell) for at least two days, and must test negative to a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test at the end of that period.

Quarantine and testing to release is still require for those who test positive for Covid in Italy.

Quarantine and testing to release is still required for those who test positive for Covid in Italy. Photo by Piero Cruciatti / AFP.

Testing should be carried out at a registered pharmacy or testing centre. The results of home tests are not seen as valid for this purpose.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Should the patient continue to test positive, they must remain in isolation until they get a negative test result. However, the maximum length of the self-isolation period has been cut to 14 days, down from 21.

The above isolation requirements apply to everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated against Covid or have recently recovered from it.

Finally, those who come into close contact with an infected person but do not show any symptoms are required to wear an FFP2 face mask both indoors and outdoors for the ten days following the day when the contact occurred.

Other restrictions

Italy no longer has any active restrictions on businesses’ opening times or capacity. However, individual businesses can still set different rules than those enforced at a national level.

Moreover, there are currently no restrictions on travel between regions, though local authorities have the power to impose their own measures at any time.

Italian health authorities continue to advise residents to respect social distancing when possible and wash their hands frequently.

For more information about how Italy’s Covid rules may apply to you, see the Italian health ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

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