Britons to have quarantine-free holidays to Italy by end of May, government announces

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British tourists will be able to holiday in Italy from the second half of this month without having to quarantine, the government has indicated.

Visitors will have to demonstrate that they have either been vaccinated against Covid-19, they have recently tested negative, or they have had the virus in the past and now have immunity.

The Italian government has not yet decided whether it will require a rapid antigen test or a more thorough molecular test.

Mario Draghi, the prime minister, announced that Italy was opening up to the world at the end of a meeting of tourism ministers from the Group of 20 wealthy nations.

A government source said the health ministry would soon formally announce that Italy’s five-day quarantine rule would be scrapped for visitors who can show that they are negative, vaccinated or immune.

Italy will not wait until Brussels introduces an EU-wide coronavirus health pass scheme, the prime minister said.

“Waiting for the European certificate... we have a national green pass that will enable people to move from region to region and will be operational by mid-May, so let us not wait until mid-June for the EU pass,” Mr Draghi said.

“In mid-May tourists can have the Italian pass... so the time has come to book your holidays in Italy.

“Few countries are as closely intertwined with tourism as Italy. The world longs to travel here. Italy is ready to welcome back the world. Our mountains, our beaches, our cities and our countryside are reopening.”

An official within the tourism ministry confirmed that the opening up applied to non-EU nationalities such as Britons and Americans as well as EU citizens.

The term “green pass” has been bandied around by the Italian government but the official said that it did not amount to a physical document that needed to be obtained.

Instead, it just meant that the quarantine rules had changed.

“As long as you can show that you have been vaccinated or you test negative or you have immunity, then you’ll be welcome to come to Italy,” he said. “So families in the UK who want to travel to Italy this summer can start booking their holidays.”

After a slow start, Italy has in the last month speeded up its vaccination programme and on a couple of days recently managed to administer nearly half a million doses.

So far, 6.3 million people have had both doses of a vaccine while 8.2 million have had one jab and are awaiting the second.

But with herd immunity a distant prospect, the number of new infections and deaths remains stubbornly high. On Tuesday, Italy recorded another 305 Covid-related deaths in 24 hours and another 9,000 new infections.

Since the pandemic began last February, Italy has registered more than 121,000 deaths - the highest number in Europe after the UK. It is the seventh-highest death toll in the world.

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