Italy is tightening its restrictions for all travellers in response to the rising threat of the omicron variant.

As of tomorrow, 16 December, arrivals from other European Union countries will have to take a COVID test before arriving into the country.

Previously, proof of vaccination, recent recovery or a negative test was sufficient for visitors from the Schengen zone. But now, like arrivals from the UK and other non-EU countries, they must begin the testing process before embarking.

The Italian Council of Ministers also agreed yesterday, 14 December, that all non-vaccinated travellers “will incur the obligation of quarantine” for five days. They can then test for release.

What are the testing requirements for Italy?

The new rules mean that all travellers who are fully-vaccinated against the virus will need to show a negative COVID test before setting off for Italy. This can be either an antigen test – which must be taken 24 hours before departure – or a PCR test, which must have been taken within a 48-hour window.

The restrictions for non-EU travellers have been tightened accordingly. Brits, for example, already had to take a pre-departure test, but the time frame in which they can do so will be reduced to match the above.

Signed by the Italian health minister on Tuesday night, these testing rules will stay in place until at least 31 January.

State of emergency extended in Italy

Italy’s COVID infection rate is lower than other Western European countries, including the UK, France and Germany. But with around 20,000 new cases a day and rising, it is also tightening domestic measures to get a grip on the highly transmissible omicron variant.

Last night, Italian ministers voted to extend the country’s State of Emergency until 31 March 2022.

This means that both the national government and regional authorities will retain their powers to impose new laws at short notice if the health situation demands stricter measures.

Under this decree, Italian residents and visitors will continue to carry ‘Super Green Passes’ to access a number of social venues.

This newer green pass launched last week, and it shows proof of vaccination or recovery from the virus within the last six months. The original, basic green pass can be obtained through a negative test, but doesn’t enable holders to get into places like theatres, cinemas, restaurants and bars.

The super pass system was set to be retired in mid-January, but has now been extended to 31 March 2022 as Italy speeds up its vaccination and booster drive.

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