Coronavirus Rome - Travel questions answered
Updated November 24, 2020
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? 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
I've been getting lots of similar questions about Covid-19 in Rome via email and across all my social media channels, so I wanted to create a place to answer them:
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 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
What's the situation in Rome right now?
When everything went on lockdown on March 9, people across Italy complied with the restrictions. 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.
Towards the end of May, restrictions started loosening and normal life resumed, with some adjustments to keep us all safe.
As of June, Italians were able to move around the country freely, as well as being able to travel to other EU countries. People from EU countries (including the UK, Switzerland and Monaco) were also able to come to Italy without needing to quarantine on arrival.
The streets of Rome were much quieter than in previous years, but we saw a steady increase in the number of people in the city after restrictions were lifted.
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 was like in the summer after the Coronavirus lockdown:
Current Restrictions - Rule and Protocols
- As of November 6, there are new, widespread rules which are designed to slow the spread of Covid-19 in Italy.
- 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).
- 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.
- The latest legislation from the government (which will be in place until at least December 3) includes a strong recommendation that people do not have guests in their homes, and that if guests are necessary for work/urgent needs, that face coverings be worn during their visit. Private parties in bars, restaurants and other public places are no longer allowed, along with restrictions on the number of people able to attend weddings and other ceremonies.
- 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. Further rules apply depending on which zone you are in - Rome is in Lazio, which is currently classed as a yellow region.
- Lazio has recently put in place some additional rules specifically for our region, including the closure of shops at 9pm and preventing large shops from opening on weekends and holidays.
The government reserves the right to revoke any relaxation of the rules if the number of infections climb dramatically, and/or if people do not obey the rules.
Fines (from 400-1,000€) are being enforced for transgressors.
What's closed and what's open in Rome right now?
WHAT'S OPEN IN ROME AS OF NOVEMBER 24, 2020
- Bars, restaurants, cafés are permitted to be open only from 5am until 6pm for table service Monday-Sunday. After 6pm establishments can only offer takeaway and delivery until 10pm, but the food and drink purchased for takeaway cannot be consumed outside or near the bar or restaurant.
- Hairdressers/beauty/nail salons are open.
- All types of shops remain open, however shopping centre/malls, large shops and markets must close at the weekend (although supermarkets, pharmacies and newsagents within shopping centres are allowed to stay open).
- Professional, national-level soccer competitions are allowed to continue, along with other professional sporting events, with limited numbers of spectators permitted at events played outdoors. This may change again soon.
- Schools for children of all ages are largely open, however secondary schools and universities are only permitted to teach via distance/remote learning methods, and some regions have closed schools temporarily.
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 NOVEMBER 24, 2020
- Indoor and outdoor nightclubs and discos remain closed.
- On October 23 the regional government of Lazio put in place a curfew from between midnight and 5am each night. This has now been extended nationally to a 10pm-5am curfew. 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.
- Museums and cultural sites (including outdoor sites) are closed.
The latest government decree states that these restrictions will be in place through to December 3 at least.
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
All major museums and sites were required to close as of November 6, including (but not limited to):
Outdoor spaces and churches remain open and available to visitors however, including:
Vatican - Saint Peter's Basilica and Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums, Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican Gardens, St Peter’s Square, Saint Peter’s Dome, and St Peter’s Tomb were all open until November 5, with some new rules in place for visitors. All areas are cleaned and sanitized regularly.
The Vatican Museums and tours of the Scavi area (where St Peter's Tomb is), are closed from November 5.
There were new hours, restricted visitor numbers, and a lot of new 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 and it was a very special day, with few people around. Watch my video to experience this for yourself:
For any future trips, 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 were 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.
The Vatican Museums has confirmed that they will be issuing a direct, automatic refund for all tickets already purchased for admission and guided tours booked with them directly for the period while the museums will be closed.
Churches are allowed to stay open currently, 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 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 - closed until december 3
The archeological park that includes the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill had mostly reopened, with most areas accessible.
The exceptions to this were the SUPER sites and the platforms overlooking the Circus Maximus. You also could not access the Imperial Forums.
There were 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 had also re-opened so you could buy tickets on site, although I really recommend against this, as I always have done.
Entrances were still timed and limited, and while the queues weren't as long as they have been in previous years, I saw people lining up at the ticket booth. It is far better to book in advance and save yourself the aggravation! Just remember to arrive promptly for your booked time to allow time for the checks that will be carried out.
The entire archeological park is closed as of November 6.
Rome underground sites
Most underground sites such as the Domus Aurea remain closed.
However, some underground sites have reopened. These include:
- 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
The requirements for visiting Rome’s museums and sites are now largely standard. Advance online booking is mandatory for nearly all 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 new features include thermal temperature scanners at the entrance, downloadable audio guides 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.
Coronavirus Rome Italy - Campidoglio and the office of the Mayor of Rome on March 8, when sites and museums were closed across Italy.
Is it safe to be in Rome right now?
We feel safe going around Rome.
We now always wear masks when outside in keeping with the latest government decree this month (November 2020).
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 under 105,000 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the Lazio region (where Rome is) since tracking began in early March.
There are just under 84,000 active cases in the Lazio region currently.
You can follow this here:
Can you travel to Italy?
As of November 2020, the current travel permissions are as follows:
- You can travel within and across regions in 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.)
- 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 was removed for travel between the UK and Italy. As of October 15, the UK government has now reinstated their quarantine requirement for travel between the UK and Italy due to an increase in the number of new cases in Italy recently.
- In addition, on October 8 Italy added the UK to the list of countries that they require a negative Covid-19 test from for all travelers. If traveling from the UK to Italy for any reason, you will need to either provide evidence of a negative test result from within the previous 72 hours, or take a test on arrival and quarantine until it comes back negative.
- Some European countries are imposing restrictions on people visiting from other European countries or regions. This is 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.
- The EU updated their travel advice earlier in the year 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.
- On October 22 the EU updated their list of 'safe' countries. They removed Canada, Georgia and Tunisia, and added Singapore. No other changes have been made, with the USA still classed as a restricted country.
- 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 are required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. People who have been in Belgium, France, the UK, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic or Spain are required to provide evidence of a negative Coronavirus test or 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 web page 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.
- There is also a new 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).
Coronavirus Rome - all museums and archeological sites across Italy closed in March. Most have since reopened, although with limits as to the number of visitors allowed inside at one time.
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 feel cooler but the sun is still shining, and the days are beautiful and pleasant, perfect for enjoying a stroll through the streets of Rome.
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. However there have been significant restrictions in place for people visiting Italy and limited flights available for those people who can enter the country. Your country may also have cut off flights to Italy and/or issued travel advisories that urged people not to visit Italy.
With the change in travel restrictions, people traveling within the EU are able to visit Italy, so we have seen a number of visitors from other countries over the summer enjoying Rome, with many people planning trips.
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 with the current regulations, so as to help you make a decision about whether to start planning a trip.
Whether you are thinking about coming to Rome soon or at some point in the future, just know how much we want you to come back to visit us, when it is right for you to do so.
Coronavirus Rome update - the sites are quiet but we do have some visitors.
Should you cancel your trip to Italy?
If you have a trip planned to visit Italy anytime in the near future or early next 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 affect travel plans in the near term. It seems clear that we will all be living with Coronavirus for some time and so there won’t be a return to ‘normal’ anytime soon.
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 strongly-affected because of this situation. We need you now more than ever before.
If you have booked a trip for this year or early next year, I suggest waiting to see what happens in relation to current restrictions and whether you will be able to travel.
If you do decide to cancel, or are not able to travel, consider contacting the individual hotels or tour providers you may have booked with to see if they can offer you a voucher or to re-book for another time.
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.
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 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.
- If you are interested in helping sustain Romewise, especially during this difficult time, please browse our shop.
Coronavirus/Covid-19 - useful links and resources