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Coronavirus Rome - Travel questions answered

Updated September 15, 2020

Looking for the latest news about the Coronavirus Rome? What's the situation here? What's it like in Rome right now? Should you cancel your trip to Italy? Can you plan your trip to Italy?



WHAT'S OPEN IN ROME AS OF SEPTEMBER 15, 2020


CURRENT RESTRICTIONS - RULES and PROTOCOLS

  • We must still maintain social distancing.
  • Masks must be worn indoors and on public transport, and as of August 17, masks must be worn outdoors between the hours of 6pm and 6am in all public spaces.
  • No large groups or gatherings are allowed (with small exceptions as noted).
  • For all businesses that are open, there are strict protocols regarding wearing masks, maintaining social distance, using hand sanitizer, and proper sanitization, disposal, and use of any utensils/equipment.

The government reserves the right to revoke any of these re-openings if the number of infections starts climbing dramatically, and/or if people do not obey the rules.

Fines and sanctions are still applicable and will be enforced for transgressors.

SEPTEMBER- BORDER OPENINGS

As of September, a lot of things have changed. 

  • We can move across regions within Italy without restrictions.
  • Anyone coming from elsewhere in the EU and Schengen countries (including the UK) can come to Italy without being required to undergo a 2-week quarantine on arrival in Italy (unless you have spent time in a country the Italian government has temporarily banned travel from - the full list of exclusions can be found here.)
  • As of this writing, anyone entering the UK, even UK citizens returning from another country in Europe, must undergo a 2-week quarantine. As of July 4, the UK government published a list of 'safe' countries, including Italy, and so the quarantine requirement has been removed for travel between the UK and Italy as of this writing. The UK government has however reinstated their quarantine requirement for travel between the UK and a number of countries, including Spain and France, due to a significant increase in the number of new cases in those countries. While there has been a slight increase in the number of new cases in Italy, as of now, there is no indication that the UK will be reinstating quarantine for travel to/from Italy.
  • Some European countries are imposing restrictions on people visiting from other European countries or regions. This is a developing story and subject to frequent changes, and so you should always check the individual advice for the countries/regions you may be planning to travel to/from.
  • As of this writing, the EU have updated their travel advice to state that visitors to the EU from specific countries are allowed to enter EU countries from July 1, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, for any reason and without a quarantine requirement. However, visitors from countries of origin that are deemed to have high infection rates are not allowed to travel to the EU (unless for an existing reason of proven work needs, health reasons or a different urgent reason). This currently includes the USA, with the list to be reviewed regularly. As of this writing, no additional countries have been added to the 'safe' list, with no indication that any countries will be added anytime soon.
  • The EU advice is not binding on EU countries, with each individual country able to decide whether they will accept the EU recommendations or not. Italy decided that while they will accept travelers from the countries deemed as safe by the EU, there will be a mandatory 14-day quarantine and isolation period for each person who enters Italy from these countries, regardless of the reason for visiting. This stance has been maintained since July and looks unlikely to change in the near future. Please check the Italian Ministry of Health's website (page is in English and Italian) for the detailed rules for travelers.
  • Following recent increases in the number of infections in other European countries, the Italian government has introduced some country-specific rules. People entering Italy from Romania and Bulgaria are required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. People who have been in Croatia, Greece, Malta or Spain are required to have a test within 48 hours of entry into Italy, and quarantine until the test comes back negative. These rules apply to both Italian residents and tourists, all details are on the webpage above.
  • Many of these border reopening rules and protocols continue to change and evolve quickly. Please stay tuned. I will continue to update this page with new info as we get it. While the current situation is developing all the time, there is an excellent website published by the EU that has details on travel rules between countries - click here to visit.

Coronavirus Rome - Answers to your questions

I've been getting lots of similar questions about the Coronavirus in Rome via email and across all my social media channels, so I wanted to create a place to answer them:

Museums in Rome - reopening news and regulations

Vatican - Saint Peter's Basilica and Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums (and Saint Peter's Basilica) are cleaned and sanitized regularly.

The basilica is open as of May 18. The Vatican museums and Vatican gardens opened.

There are a lot of new rules and new hours. You can read them on the Vatican Museums newly-designed website here.

We visited the museums, the basilica, the dome, and the square, and it's an amazing experience, with few people around.

Right now, advance booking is mandatory (the Vatican Museums will waive the 4€ fee right now). Entrances will be staggered and timed. You must be punctual. Wearing a mask inside is mandatory.

There is no advance booking required for Saint Peter's Basilica, but you may have a short wait in a socially-distanced queue. You will have to go through airport-style security, and while inside, masks are obligatory at all times. Don’t forget to cover your knees and shoulders.

Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Roman Forum

The archeological park that includes the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill have reopened, with most areas accessible. The exceptions to this are the SUPER sites and the platforms overlooking the Circus Maximus. You also cannot access the Imperial Forums.

There are new hours and rules, along with a new app - find out all the new information on the Colosseum's official website here.

The ticket office has now re-opened so you could buy tickets on site. I really recommend against this, as I always have done. Entrances are still timed and limited, and while the queues aren't as long as they have been in previous years, I am now seeing people lining up at the ticket booth. In the heat, it is far better to book in advance and save yourself the aggravation! Just remember to arrive promptly for your booked time.

Rome underground sites 

Most underground sites such as the Domus Aurea, and the Colosseum underground will remain closed for now.

However, some underground sites are now re-opening! The catacombs of San Callisto are open for visits (must be booked online in advance) in line with government guidelines.

Rome Museum regulations for visiting

Some of the requirements that are standard for visiting Rome museums/sites include:

For nearly all sites, advance online booking is mandatory. Visits will be staggered and timed to manage the number of visitors present at any given time. You must be punctual, and maintain social distancing throughout your visit, as well as wearing a mask.

Other new features include thermal scanners at the entrance, downloadable audioguides on smartphones, and frequent sanitisations during the day.

Some museums are extending their hours to allow locals to visit more easily and to avoid large numbers of visitors arriving at the same time - check each individual location's website for specific days and timings.

Watch my recent video to find out what life in Rome is like after the Coronavirus lockdown:

My take on the Coronavirus in Rome

Please note I am not a medical professional or a public health official.

I have no authority to tell you what you should or CAN do about travel to Rome, Italy, or anywhere, now or in the future.

But since I've been getting asked so much about the situation here, I wanted to give you my perspective on how things are for those of us who live and work in Rome.

I'll also give you some links to authoritative sources you SHOULD rely on if you are trying to decide whether to travel to Rome, to Italy, or even at all.

Coronavirus Rome Italy - Campidoglio and the office of the Mayor of Rome on March 8, when sites and museums were closed across Italy.

Coronavirus Rome Italy

What's the situation in Rome right now?

When everything went on lockdown on March 9, people across Italy complied. However, life carried on. People were walking their dogs, going to the grocery and pharmacy, and doing basic things to live life as best we could under the circumstances. 

As of the second half of May, things began opening back up and restrictions started loosening (see above).

As of September, there is much more movement outside than before, with tourists starting to appear, but you will still find much emptier streets and piazzas than you would have seen in the past. If you follow me on social media, you will see my pix of quiet piazzas and monuments.

However, I have started hearing more non-Italian voices and seeing tourists starting to enjoy the city again, which I am very happy to see!

I think that a lot of the piazzas and monuments are quiet during the day because we have only a few tourists, and because Romans are busy working and taking care of their children. I think also that when Romans are going out, they are heading to the parks which are indeed full.

Many people tell me they love seeing my photos of an empty Rome. They say how nice it must be to see these sights with so few people.

Yes, it's nice. Sort of. It's also terrible. I hear so many business owners wondering if they are going to make it. Rome needs tourists. We miss you and we need you.

Is it safe to be in Rome right now?

We feel safe going around Rome. We obeyed the law and at first limited our outings to grocery shopping and short walks in our neighborhood. As restrictions have eased, we continue to go out, maintaining a sense of caution.

We don't always wear masks when outside unless we see we are nearing other people. We are keeping more than the 1-meter (3-feet) distance from others, as decreed.

We ALWAYS wear masks inside.

Alessandro and I personally feel safe. We are following the rules and common sense health and hygiene practices as we always have done.

Can you walk around Rome?

As of June 1, we can go anywhere in Italy without needing any papers to justify where we are going (as we did before). 

We must all follow the rules whether outside or inside, and keep at least 1 meter (about 3 feet) distance between ourselves and others.

Coronavirus Rome - What is closed in Rome and what's open?

Just in the first 10 days of March, the situation changed dramatically.

At the beginning of March, I would have told you that it was ok to be here in Rome, because everything was open. Except for the catacombs.

On March 8 the government decreed that all museums and archeological sites would close until April 3. That moved to May 3.

Coronavirus Rome - all museums and archeological sites across Italy closed in March. They are now slowly starting to reopen.

CoronavirUs Rome - What's open

Now it's mid-September. Almost everything has reopened, if slowly. 

Churches, piazzas, parks, hotels are all open. Shops, bars, restaurants, hairdressers, and nail salons are all allowed to open, and most have now done so.

Indoor nightclubs and discos remained closed throughout this time, and the government decided to close outdoor clubs as of August 17. No other types of businesses have been closed however.

Coronavirus Rome update - as of March 10, Saint Peter's Basilica is closed to the public.

Saint Peter's Basilica and Saint Peter's Square reopened on May 18, with the Vatican Museums, Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Forum area, Capitoline Museums, Borghese Gallery, the Pantheon and many other major museums and sites now open also.

All types of shops are now allowed to be open.

Is Coronavirus in Rome?

As of the time of writing, there have been a total of just over 13,300 TOTAL confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the Lazio region since tracking began in early March. You can follow this here:

What should you do? What can you do?

No matter where you are in the world, you can take the precautions suggested by the Italian Health ministry and the World Health Organization. The most important of these are:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible
  • When around others, keep a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet)
  • Thoroughly wash and dry your hands as often as you can, especially after you use the bathroom and after you have been outside.

You can also check the website of your country's embassy for up-to-date information and notifications.

Here is the website of the US Embassy in Italy, regarding Covid-19.

Here is the UK official statement on the situation regarding Covid-19 and Italy.

Should you cancel your trip to Italy?

If you have a trip planned to visit Italy any time in the near future or later in the year, you may be wondering if you should cancel your trip.

Since the situation is continually developing, it's hard to know how it will effect travel plans in the near term. Nobody can know when this will all "blow over."

In part, it will be up to you and your family to decide what is right for you. In part, it may be out of your hands, as companies and governments place restrictions where they feel it's important to do so.

What I can tell you is that we in Italy all hope you will come to Italy as soon as you can.

The economy, in particular the tourism-based economy, has been crushed because of this situation. We need you now more than ever before.

If you have tickets for sometime this fall or later in the year, I suggest waiting to see what happens. 

Check flights now:

Can you plan a trip to Italy?

Many of you are asking WHEN you can come visit Rome and Italy.

I wish you could come right now.

The summer heat is still here but is starting to ease, the days feel slightly cooler but the sun is still setting late, and the evenings are beautiful and pleasant, perfect for enjoying a stroll through the streets of Rome or sipping on cool drinks in a piazza or on a rooftop.

We need you here and miss you so much.

As to when you will be allowed to come...

Italy has never banned travel into the country. There has been, however, a 2-week mandatory quarantine for anyone coming in from outside. Also, many flights were reduced (but not completely cancelled as people were allowed to travel to repatriate and/or for work or medical reasons).

Another factor is that YOUR country may have cut off flights to Italy and/or issued travel advisories that urged people not to visit Italy.

As of June 3, if you are from an EU country (including the UK, Switzerland and Monaco), you are allowed to come freely to Italy without any 2-week quarantine! We can also travel to other EU countries.

This is very exciting for all of us and we are so happy to welcome you back.

If you are from a country outside the EU, at the moment travel into Italy from elsewhere without a quarantine is not allowed. As of July 1 some EU countries have started allowing visitors from non-EU countries, and while Italy has allowed visitors from the approved list, they have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

The EU-wide travel advice is being reviewed regularly, so the situation is likely to change. Once travel is allowed, the country where you live may have different rules about what you are allowed to do. It may depend on the airlines, and it will surely depend on your personal situation.

All I can say is to please keep following me, here and on social media, as I update you. Just know how much we want you to come back to visit us.

How to help Italy and Italian businesses

The Italian economy has been devastated by this situation. Besides people working in tourism, the grinding to a halt of the Italian economy trickled down to many people across socio-economic statuses, sectors, and geographic regions.

I and so many people I know work directly in tourism, and as you can imagine, this has had a brutal effect on us all.

If you want to help, here are some options:

  • Italian Red Cross - There is a link right on their home page where you can donate towards the coronavirus crisis
  • The Cats at Largo Argentina - This volunteer organization depends on donations to care for and feed the cats who live there
  • Girl in Florence - Georgette Jupe has a really diverse list of options for helping local businesses.
  • Revealed Rome - Amanda Ruggieri also has some excellent suggestions about who to follow for Coronavirus Rome and Italy news, and how to help small businesses.
  • Elizabeth Minchilli just shared her insightful views about life in lockdown while in Umbria, and gave some excellent resources and suggestions for how to help.
  • Gillians Lists - Gillian McGuire also has some superb ideas for how to help.
  • An American in Rome - Natalie Aldern Kennedy has a page about where you can donate. 
  • La Vita Roma - Abbie Stark has a great writeup of how we are coping, and also offers tips for how to help.
  • The Sewing Cooperative - This non-profit helps refugees living in Rome. These people create beautiful garments with cloth that has African-inspired designs and colors. They are now creating masks, and I bought 3 and love them! 1 for 10€, 3 for 25. And they will personally deliver to you if you are in Rome.
  • Visit my page about Learning Italian. Many local schools are offering online courses.

What is the Coronavirus? What is Covid-19?

Coronaviruses have been around a very long time.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)."

The most recently identified virus is called Novel Coronavirus, which basically means "new Coronavirus." Covid-19 is the disease caused by the Novel Coronavirus.

Covid-19 is something like a regular flu virus, except it's likelier to be deadlier (but we don't know), and it seems to be more contagious (although we don't know), and we do not yet have a vaccine for it.

WE DON'T ACTUALLY KNOW THE RATE OF INFECTION

There is no correct statistic right now that tells us the rate of infection, the survival rate, or the death rate.

We only have some data telling us the number of infected people that WE KNOW ABOUT, and a definite number of people who have died.

BUT WE DO NOT HAVE A DENOMINATOR!

This means we don't know the total population of people infected in a a given region or in the world, because testing people to see if they have the virus has been inconsistent.

Covid-19 symptoms

Symptoms of the Coronavirus Covid-19 show up 2-14 days after exposure. They include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Do not panic! These symptoms can also indicate any number of other illnesses including the cold, flu, and other viral infections.

What can you do to protect yourself? The following is true anywhere in the world, not just in Rome, Italy.

So far, we don't have a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 but many common-sense personal hygiene practices will go a long way towards preventing your exposure to the virus.

From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • CDC recommends that people wear a face mask or cloth face cover when around others to protect other people in case you are infected, whether you feel sick or not. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

Coronavirus and Italy

Why were there so many cases of Coronavirus in Italy?

When we first learned of the Coronavirus, Italy was at the forefront. It was in Rome that scientists first isolated and identified the virus. And Italy began immediately to test people for it. As a result, they quickly found many people infected.

The World Health Organization has praised Italy's reaction, and actions taken by the Italian Ministry of health:

"Dr Dina Pfeifer, in charge of clinical management and team lead, highlighted Italy’s commitment, since the beginning, to tackle to the outbreak. “We appreciate the difficulties that the current situation poses and acknowledge the efforts of the Ministry of Health as well as other national and regional authorities to address it. This is indeed a whole-of-government collaboration, and we are grateful for the transparent information-sharing that is critical for us to better understand this outbreak and support response efforts,” she said."

So, thanks to Italy's aggressive testing, it was easier to get a handle on the number of people infected, and to begin addressing the situation.

It may be that Italy does not have proportionately more people with Coronavirus. It may turn out that they simply counted more people with it right from the beginning. But we don't know yet.

As time has gone by, Italy's cases have stabilized due to the measures taken by the government. Compared to other countries in Europe and around the world, Italy's case numbers do not now look as unusual as they did at the start of the pandemic, with the vast majority of Italians complying with the measures designed to help stop the spread of the virus.

Where is the Covid-19 virus in Italy?

As of March 8, 2020, most of the cases of Coronavirus in Italy were in the north. (They still are as of the time of writing.)

In fact, the region of Lombardy was originally the only part of Italy considered a "red zone". On March 9, the entire country was considered a red zone.

As of September 15, the majority of the cases remain specifically in the region of Lombardy (where Milan is). Here again is the link to the data map. It's in Italian but it's easy to understand and you can see the regions and the numbers.

Coronavirus/Covid-19 - useful links and resources


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