Update: Italy has extended its ban on tourists travelling from Singapore or who have been there in the last 14 days, until 15th March 2022.
If you’re heading to Italy anytime soon or planning a trip there, it’s bad news for most travellers today – with Singapore being downgraded to the country’s “List E” from 16th December 2021, effectively killing off leisure trips for Singaporeans until at least February 2022.
The move is part of a wider tightening of restrictions by the Italian authorities, in response to the rising threat of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, with the country also extending its state of emergency until March 2022.
Other precautions Italy is taking include mandatory COVID-19 testing for travellers arriving from within the EU, which technically goes against the objectives of the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), introduced by the bloc to facilitate equal travel restrictions between member states.
From 16th December 2021, Singapore will be downgraded from Italy’s “List D” countries to “List E”.
That’s very bad news, because entry into Italy from “List E” countries is allowed only for specific reasons:
- Work reasons
- Health reasons
- Study reasons
- Absolute urgency
- Return to one’s domicile, home, or residence
Tourism is specifically excluded.
While Italy’s published online “List D” countries still includes Singapore at the time of writing, it is valid only until 15th December 2021, and has now been superseded by this ordinance (Italian) from today.
Italy was added to Singapore’s list of Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) countries on 19th October 2021, meaning Singapore residents have enjoyed two-way quarantine-free travel to the country for over eight weeks, though that has sadly now come to an abrupt halt.
These new entry restrictions were signed by the Italian health minister on Tuesday 14th December, and will remain in place until at least 31st January 2022.
For those travelling to Italy on Singapore Airlines, the first to be affected by the new rules will be those flying on:
- 17 Dec: SQ352 to Rome at 00:30
- 17 Dec: SQ356 to Milan at 23:05
Update: Singapore Airlines is offering passengers whose travel plans are affected by this change a full refund, including a waiver of cancellation fees.
Having an EUDCC won’t help
All Singapore vaccination certificates are now part of the EUDCC scheme, however this unfortunately won’t pass muster for entry into Italy quarantine-free as a tourist.
While the principle of the EUDCC is to ensure travellers should “not be subject to additional restrictions, such as tests or quarantine”, especially when travelling within the EU itself, member states are not obliged to follow the recommendations.
Border measures remain the sovereign right of independent nation states, and Italy (unfortunately for us Singaporeans) is legitimately exercising those rights in this case.
It’s ruffled a few feathers in the EU, with one representative earlier this week saying “these individual decisions of the states will decrease the trust of the people that there will be equal conditions everywhere in Europe”.
Sadly, there’s really not much the Commission can do about it.
Singapore – Milan – Barcelona passengers
One question some of our readers have already asked is whether they are still eligible to travel with Singapore Airlines to Barcelona in Spain on SQ378, or back to Singapore on SQ377/379, with these new rules in force, given that the flights have a transit stop in Milan in both directions.
Good news is that the changes do not affect passengers in transit.
In the same way that those flying to Barcelona via Milan have not been impacted by Italy’s pre-departure test requirements, they are equally unaffected by these new “List E” restrictions.
The new rules would only cause a problem if you need to physically enter Italy (i.e. clear immigration), which is not the case on these transit stops with Singapore Airlines.
Stopovers are not possible anyway, since SIA does not have “fifth-freedom” traffic rights between Milan and Barcelona, meaning no new passengers can join the service in Milan and no passengers originating in Barcelona can deplane in Milan.
You will still be able to travel quarantine-free to Italy if you have already spent 14+ days outside Singapore (and outside Italy’s “List E” countries).
Otherwise, you will still be able to travel from Singapore to Italy, but must undergo 10 days quarantine (self-isolation) if:
- you are an Italian, European Union or Schengen Area citizen, or hold long-term resident status in Italy; or
- you have a proven and stable emotional relationship (even if not cohabiting) with a European Union or Schengen Area citizen, or a person who is legally resident in Italy (long-term resident), and you are travelling in order to reach your partner’s residence in Italy.
Travelling to Italy from within Europe?
If you’re a Singapore citizen or resident travelling to Italy for tourism, like all other visitors you must declare your travel history within the last 14 days on Italy’s Digital Passenger Locator Form (France, Malta and Slovenia also use the same system).
If your 14-day history includes Singapore, you won’t be able to enter Italy from 16th December 2021, unless you are exempt (e.g. a long-term resident of Italy, who is happy to quarantine for 10 days).
If your trip outside Singapore (and other “List E” countries) has exceeded 14 days, for example if you’ve already spent a week in Spain and a week in France, you will be permitted to enter Italy as a fully vaccinated tourist, however you will now be required to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test as follows:
- A negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival; or
- A negative antigen test (ART) taken within 24 hours of arrival.
This new testing criteria also applies for those still eligible to travel to Italy from Singapore, who will now undergo quarantine on arrival.Note: If you are arriving in Italy with 14-day travel history including the United Kingdom using a PCR test, the validity period is reduced to 48 hours prior to arrival.
Already in Italy?
If you’ve already entered Italy (i.e. on or before 15th December 2021), the new restrictions do not apply to you.
You can continue your trip as planned without concern (well, unless you fear Singapore will retaliate and remove Italy from its VTL – unlikely).
However, if you intend to leave Italy, and return to Italy again less than 14 days after originally departing from Singapore, you will be denied entry as a tourist because the new rules apply.
In this (probably rare) case, you may need to amend your plans a little.
If you’re travelling to Singapore from Italy on the VTL, there are also no changes here. You will still benefit from a quarantine-free arrival after landing from one of the designated VTL flights, as outlined below (click to expand):
For a full list of all designated VTL flights to Singapore from Europe and beyond, check our dedicated page here.
While increased precautions were always inevitable, it’s a real shame to see the Omicron variant causing the first outright ban for Singapore travellers to a VTL country, with Italy now preventing tourist entry for those arriving from from the Lion City until at least February 2022.
It’s arguably the biggest setback for Singapore’s VTL programme since it was established in September this year, though given the unilateral nature of the Italy arrangement (like most others), a hard travel restriction like this on the 24-strong VTL network was inevitable sooner or later, given the Omicron spread.
The news will certainly scupper plans for many travellers over the Christmas and New Year period, even including Italian or EU citizens living in Singapore, who will still be able to make the trip but will now face 10 days self-isolation on arrival.
Good news for those of you already in Italy is that the VTL flights back to Changi are not affected by these new border measures, so don’t panic – you can continue to enjoy your trip and make a quarantine-free return home as planned.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)