Are you itching to get on the road and travel this summer? Do you wish you could head to the beach? Drive to the mountains? Visit Italy? Well, my friends, Italy is now open to most visitors. Before you go, though, let me tell you what you must do (as of this writing on June 17, 2021 and if you are American).
On May 16, I read that Italy was allowing American citizens to enter the country, and within four hours, I had booked our tickets. While I knew there were some restrictions, I didn’t realize what they entailed…including the possibility of a quarantine.
On May 15, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced that Italy was once again open to Americans. Passengers on COVID-tested flights from New York and Dallas to Rome, Milan, and Venice would not have to quarantine. I had booked our flight through Dallas, just by luck, but it took me over a week to make sure that our particular flight was a COVID-tested flight.
Passengers on COVID-tested flights have to take a COVID test within 48 hours of boarding their flights. The airlines offering COVID-tested flights change rapidly, so check with your airline before you book a ticket.
Sound easy? Not quite.
What Kind of Test?
There are a number of different kinds of COVID tests, and no one knew which we needed for our flight. One article said we needed the PCR test, while another said the rapid antigen test was okay. One American Airlines agent told me the information kept changing, and she didn’t know. She would only tell me not take the COVID-19 antibody test because it was not acceptable. Finally, the Italian Ministry of Health proclaimed that either test would suffice, which was good news. That said, trying to get a PCR test results back in enough time to board can be difficult..
We also had to complete a Passenger Locator Form which would tell the government our location during our visit. On the form is a spot that asks if you have an exemption from quarantine. I don’t want to bore you with the legalese, but the regulation states that if you don’t arrive on one of the COVID-tested flights, you have to quarantine for a certain amount of days.
Upon arrival in Rome, everyone on a COVID-tested flight must undergo another rapid COVID test. I read everything I could about arriving in Rome and discovered that we could make an appointment for the test. Doing so kept saved us time in line. We disembarked, walked to the testing site, filled out paperwork, paid*, had the test, and waited for the result. We were in the center of Rome about 80 minutes after landing, but other passengers from our flight were still waiting for their tests. (*Note: It costs 20 euro to have the test at the airports.)
Masks, Social Distancing, & Curfews
Currently, everyone must wear a mask indoors and outdoors everywhere in Italy. There are announcements on the trains and in the windows of all businesses advising such. In addition, most businesses limit the number of clients or customers. My friends tell me that they believe (and HOPE) that they will be able to go maskless outdoors in July.
There is also a curfew in effect in some regions (due to their COVID rates). The government lifted the curfew in the regions with low infection rates—including Lazio, Lombardia, Abruzzo, and Emilia-Romagna—on Monday.
Anyone flying into the United States must have a COVID test within 72 hours of his/her flight. I hope that by the end of the month when we head home, the American CDC will change this regulation.