Coronavirus Rome - Travel questions answered

Updated February 22, 2021

Looking for the latest news about the Coronavirus Rome? What's the situation here? What's it like in Rome right now? What restrictions are in place? What's open? What's closed? Can you plan your trip to Italy?

Read on to find out the answers to these questions and more.



Coronavirus Rome - Answers to your questions

Over the past year, I've been getting lots of questions about Covid-19 in Rome. And over the past year since all this began, the questions have changed. Now I think most people want to know simply when they can visit. But there are other questions, too, so I hope to answer them all here:

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 shouldn't do about travel to Rome, Italy, or anywhere, now or in the future.

But part of what you'll find on this page is 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, and most importantly, when.

Coronavirus Rome Italy

What's the situation in Rome right now?

Timeline of closings, restrictions, re-openings, lockdowns

We locked down for the first time on March 9 2020.

Then in spring and summer 2020, things seemed to improve and many restrictions were lifted. We enjoyed our fairly empty city and tried to carry on as best we could, albeit with the knowledge that we were definitely not out of the woods yet.

We were able to travel around Italy and other parts of Europe, and some European tourists came to Rome. 

Then in early fall, infections began rising again. There was no vaccine yet. And so, unsurprisingly, restrictions were imposed again. The restrictions varied across Italy, depending on infection/death rates and also on hospital capacity.

As of this writing, Rome is not completely locked down, at least not for those of us who live here. But it is not yet open for tourism.

Rome is quiet, empty and lonely

If you follow me on social media, you will have seen my pictures of quiet piazzas, streets and monuments. Many people have told me that 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.

Watch my YouTube video to find out what life in Rome has been like recently:

Current Restrictions - Rule and Protocols

  • We must maintain social distancing.
  • Across Italy masks must be worn indoors and outdoors. This includes, but is not limited to, when inside museums, sites, shops, businesses, and any place you will be around people you do not live with.
  • The only exceptions to wearing a mask outside your own homes are if you are exercising/playing sport, eating, drinking, are under the age of 6, or are completely alone such as in the mountains. 
  • No large groups or gatherings are allowed (with a very few small exceptions).
  • 2 adults may spend time in another person's home within the same area as long as it only once a day and the ongoing curfew of 10pm-5am is adhered to.
  • 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. In many cases, the number of people allowed inside is limited and may result in queues.
  • There is a national curfew in place from 10pm-5am, where people are only allowed to leave their homes for reasons of work, health or situations of need.
  • The government has split Italy into red, orange and yellow zones, based on multiple risk factors which are reviewed weekly. Further rules apply depending on which zone you are in - Rome is in Lazio, which has been changed from an orange region to a yellow region as of February 1. The goal is to go to being a "white zone", which means everything is fine and there are no closures.
  • The latest government decree of January 14 added some additional rules to the existing restrictions that have been in place since November. This new decree is in force until March 5.
  • The additional restrictions include a stop on movement between regions for anything apart from essential travel regardless of which zone is in force, and a stop on bars selling takeaway drinks after 6pm.
  • There is some good news in that in yellow zone regions, museums and cultural sites are allowed to re-open Monday to Friday!
  • Fines (from 400-1,000€) are being enforced for transgressors.

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What's closed and what's open in Rome right now?

WHAT'S OPEN IN ROME AS OF february 22, 2021

  • Lazio's status has been yellow since February 1.
  • Bars, restaurants and cafés can offer dine-in services between the hours of 5am and 6pm, everyday. They can offer takeaway and home delivery until 10pm, but the food and drink purchased for takeaway cannot be consumed outside or nearby the establishment. 
  • Hairdressers/beauty/nail salons are open.
  • All types of shops remain open, however shopping centers/malls and markets are closed at the weekend (although supermarkets, pharmacies and newsagents within shopping centers are allowed to stay open).
  • Schools for children of all ages are allowed to be open, however teaching is split between in person and distance/remote learning methods. Some regions have chosen to close schools temporarily and some have changed all teaching to distance learning.
  • Museums and cultural sites are allowed to open from Monday to Friday, apart from public holidays, as Rome is now in a yellow zone. If this changes to orange or red, they will have to close again.

All businesses and recreational activities have to comply with industry specific regulations to stay open, such as ensuring customers wear masks where necessary and maintain social distance.

WHAT'S Closed IN ROME AS OF FEBRUARY 22, 2021

  • Indoor and outdoor nightclubs and discos remain closed. 
  • There is a national curfew from 10pm-5am. Between these hours you must only leave the place you are staying for an important reason such as work or a health-related emergency. If you need to go out you must carry a "autodichiarazione" self-certification form - print copies here. Failure to carry the form, or being out without a valid reason can mean a fine of up to 3000 euro.
  • Gyms, pools, spas and wellness centres are closed.
  • Cinemas, theaters and concert halls are closed.

The latest government decree was issued on January 14 and confirms that these restrictions will continue until at least March 5 2021.

No other types of businesses are required to be closed at this time (outside of the restricted operating times noted above) due to government regulations.

However, individual businesses have not been able to reopen, or chosen to remain closed because of the impact of Covid-19 in Rome and Italy, so always check in advance if you’re planning on visiting a particular shop, restaurant or hotel on a future visit to Italy.

Museums in Rome - reopening news and regulations

Major museums and sites across Italy are allowed to reopen from February 1 if they are in the yellow zone, as Lazio is currently.

The sites that have confirmed they are open are:

Opening days and times vary from site to site, with advance booking highly advised as visitor numbers are being strictly controlled to ensure no large groups can form.

Outdoor spaces and churches have always remained open and available to visitors, including:

Vatican - Saint Peter's Basilica and Vatican Museums 

The Vatican Museums, Sistine ChapelSaint Peter's BasilicaVatican Gardens, St Peter’s Square, Saint Peter’s Dome, and St Peter’s Tomb are all open as of February 1, with the same rules in place for visitors that were introduced after the lockdown in 2020. All areas are cleaned and sanitized regularly. 

There are new hours, restricted visitor numbers, and a number of rules for visiting. You can read about them on the Vatican Museums website here.

We visited the museums, the basilica, the dome, and the square soon after the restrictions were lifted in 2020 and it was a very special day, with few people around. Watch my video to experience this for yourself:

Advance booking for the Vatican Museums is mandatory (they are waiving the 4€ booking fee right now). Entrances are staggered and timed to avoid too many visitors being present at any one time, so you MUST be punctual. Wearing a mask inside at all times is mandatory.

Tickets for tours to the Vatican Gardens and Saint Peter’s Tomb are available, but places are even more limited than before, so please do book these well in advance if you are planning to include them on a future visit to Rome.

Churches have always been allowed to stay open, on the provision that social distancing can be maintained and large groups of people do not gather together, so you may still visit St Peter's Basilica. There is no advance booking required for visiting St Peter's Basilica or climbing the Dome, but you may have a short wait in a socially-distanced queue.

You will have to go through airport-style security with temperature checks, and while inside, masks are obligatory at all times.

Don’t forget to cover your knees and shoulders as per the normal requirements. 

Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Roman Forum

The archeological park that includes the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill is open, with some restrictions.

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

Some parts of the Colosseum and Palatine Hill are closed, such as the SUPER sites and the platforms overlooking the Circus Maximus. This is a developing situation so check their official site if you plan to visit.

Rome Museum regulations for visiting

The requirements for visiting Rome’s museums and sites are now largely standard.

  • Advance online booking is highly recommended, and even mandatory for some sites. Visits are 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 features include thermal temperature scanners at the entrance, downloadable audio guides on smartphones, and frequent sanitisations during the day.
  • Masks are required at all times and this is heavily monitored.

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.

Coronavirus Rome Italy - Campidoglio and the office of the Mayor of Rome on March 8 2020, when sites and museums were closed across Italy.

Is it safe to be in Rome right now?

We feel safe going around Rome. 

We always wear masks when outside in keeping with the latest government decree from January 2021.

We keep more than the 1-meter (3-feet) distance from others, as decreed.

We ALWAYS wear masks inside any shop, site, or establishment except to eat or drink.

We are following the rules and common-sense health and hygiene practices as we always have done.

As of the time of writing, there have been a total of just over 225,000 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the Lazio region (where Rome is) since tracking began in early March 2020.

There are just over 35,000 active cases in the Lazio region currently.

You can follow this here:

Can you travel to Italy right now?

As of February 2021, the current travel permissions are as follows:

within italy

  • Within Italy, travel between different regions is currently prohibited unless for reason of extreme need, work or if you are returning to your main home.
  • This applies regardless of which zone each region is in at the time of travel.
  • This rule has just been extended until at least March 27.

eu and schengen countries

  • Visitors from EU and Schengen countries (excluding the UK) can come to Italy for any reason. 
  • All visitors must provide proof of a negative test result, from a test done within the 48 hours before they enter Italy. If no evidence of a negative test is provided before entry to Italy, there is a mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement. This test requirement applies to Italian residents returning home as well as foreign visitors.
  • You can no longer take a test on arrival in Italy to avoid the quarantine, this option has been removed for inbound travel from all countries. No test = 2-week quarantine.
  • Some European countries have imposed additional restrictions on people visiting from other specific European countries or regions. This is subject to frequent change, and so you should always check the individual advice for the countries/regions you may be planning to travel to/from.
  • Please check the Italian Ministry of Health's website (page is in English and Italian) for the detailed rules for people traveling to and from Italy.
  • There is also an interactive online survey from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for people both wishing to go abroad from Italy, as well as entering the country, to give travel advice based on individual circumstances. Find the survey here for more details (available in both English and Italian).

non-eu countries

  • The Italian government has temporarily banned travel from a number of countries for anything apart from essential and urgent travel. For travelers from these countries, the 14-day quarantine is mandatory regardless of whether you have a negative test result - the full list of exclusions can be found here.
  • The EU updated their travel advice in July 2020 to state that visitors to the EU from specific countries are allowed to enter EU countries, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, for any reason. 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
  • In October 2020 the EU updated their list of 'safe' countries. They removed Canada, Georgia and Tunisia, and added Singapore. No other changes have been made since this date, with the USA still classed as a restricted country.
  • Everyone who enters Italy from a non-EU country, regardless of whether the country is on the 'safe' list or not, has to quarantine for 14 days. This applies to Italian and non-Italian citizens, regardless of what country you are entering Italy from.
  • There is no option to offer proof of a negative test to avoid the quarantine.
  • On arrival in Italy you will need to give the details of the location you will be quarantining at, and arrange private transport to reach this location, as well as notifying the local health service.
  • 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.

united kingdom

  • Anyone entering the UK, even UK citizens returning from another country in Europe, must undergo a 10 day quarantine. Earlier in 2020 the UK government published a list of 'safe' countries, including Italy, which removed the quarantine requirement. This was reinstated for a number of countries as their Covid-19 cases increased, and the UK government is now enforcing their quarantine requirement for all countries.
  • As of January 1, the UK officially left the EU, and so the travel rules for people going from the UK to Italy have changed. The EU-specific rules noted above do not apply.
  • On December 21, Italy (along with multiple other countries) banned entry into Italy for anyone who has been in the UK in the previous 14 days due to concerns regarding a new strain of Covid-19 that has been identified. This ban remains in effect, although there are exceptions for Italian residents returning home or essential travel.

If you are an Italian resident or have an essential reason to travel to Italy from the UK, the following rules must be followed:

  • Before starting your journey (e.g. at the airport) you must have evidence of a negative test result from within 72 hours prior to traveling
  • When you arrive in Italy, a further test must be taken within 48 hours of entering the country. If you have flown in from the UK, this must be done at the airport when you land.
  • Regardless of the result of the test done on arrival in Italy, you are obliged to immediately report to the local health authority and quarantine for 14 days.

The change in travel advice happened very quickly, please check the latest advice for the most up-to-date information if you need to travel to or from the UK.

Coronavirus Rome - all museums and archeological sites across Italy closed in March 2020.

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 days are starting to feel warmer and almost spring-like,with the city looking wonderful in the wintery light, it's such a great time of year to be in Rome.

We need you here and miss you so much.

As to when you will be allowed to come . . . First please read all the rules above about who can and cannot enter Italy right now, and the rules that apply for anyone who can enter.

Vaccinations have begun in Italy but it's slow going.

We all hope that the start of vaccination programs will lead to travel rules being relaxed and more people being able to visit. Italy is leading the way within the EU, having administered just over 3,500,000 vaccinations already - you can follow the Italian Ministry of Health's tracker here for more details.

For details on worldwide vaccinations and progress, click here for the latest updates worldwide, which can be filtered to show different regions and countries.

This recent article on CNN says that cases worldwide are dropping, so that gives us hope.

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. This article takes a detailed look at what may happen this year with travel around the world if you're looking for an expert's perspective!

Coronavirus Rome update - the sites are quiet but there are some local visitors.

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.

advance bookings

As the future starts to seem more hopeful, it's only natural that you may wish to start making travel plans to come to Rome and Italy, or re-book trips that had to be cancelled in the last year.

However, if you are thinking about making firm plans and want to start booking tickets for tours or entrance to sites such as the Colosseum or the Vatican Museums, it is unlikely this will be possible yet.

Museums and cultural sites have only just been allowed to re-open, and have limited opening hours and days currently. The organisations who manage the sites aren't releasing tickets/booking slots far in advance like they used to, because there's too much uncertainty currently about what they will and won't be allowed to do.

If bookings are open for a particular tour or planned visit, I would advise you not to book anything unless it's fully refundable or can be amended without a penalty in case it cannot go ahead for any reason.

As you might imagine, I follow all the Covid-related updates closely. I believe the situation here will develop a lot over the coming months, with plenty of changes likely to happen, so please keep following me, here and on social media, as I update you with the current regulations, so as to help you make a decision about whether to start planning a trip.

If you are thinking about coming to Rome at some point later this year, just know how much we want you to come back to visit us, when it is right for you to do so.

Check flights now:

How to help Italy and Italian businesses

The Italian economy has been severely impacted by the effects of the Coronavirus situation. 

Besides people working in tourism, the lockdown and impact on 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 shared her insightful views about life in lockdown, 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 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.
  • If you are interested in helping sustain Romewise, especially during this difficult time, please browse our shop.

Coronavirus/Covid-19 - useful links and resources


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