Travel with Italy in the Age of Covid
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Travel Info for 2021
July 30, 2021
ALL OF OUR LATE SUMMER AND FALL 2021 VACATIONS ARE A GREEN LIGHT TO GO
All about coming to Italy this year,The Green Pass, vaccinations, and the Delta variant
The Delta Variant
As of the time of this writing, the Delta variant of Covid-19 is the dominant strain in Italy, as with most of the world. The country is seeing an upswing of cases, but very little in terms of symptomatic cases and hospitalizations. According to the Italian Ministry of Health, the reason for this is strongly believed to be based on the following known factors:
- The uptick started 9 days after Italy won the European Soccer Championship, when millions were at crowded parties, and getting drunk, partying all night long. This was especially true of the younger Italians.
- The average age of cases in this new uptick is 28 years old. Very few in older age groups are showing to be positive
- Despite the uptick in cases, they are not seeing a corresponding increase in symptomatic cases or hospitalizations. As of the past several days, 0.003% of the cases have resulted in hospital admissions, and virtually all of those were younger and still unvaccinated.
- The large number of asymptomatic cases found has been related to the implementation of Europe's Green Pass system, causing all unvaccinated people to get tested regularly. For example, in summer vacation resorts, the younger unvaccinated population has been required to provide negative tests before entry.
- Italy's vaccination campaign started with the elderly and care workers, and gradually lowered the age requirements for vaccine eligibility. As of today, roughly 60% of all Italian residents over 12 have been fully vaccinated. More than 83% of people over 60 are fully vaccinated (2+ weeks past second dose). Those in younger are groups are just now catching up. For people under 39, only 31% are fully vaccinated. However, Italy is the second most vaccinated country in Europe, currently administering an average of 600,000 doses per day, and on track to be at a minimum of 80% for all age groups (over 12) within August, and naturally even higher for the more elderly and at risk.
- The vaccines Italy has administered have been among those showing the highest efficacy against the Delta variant in Italy. Roughly 97% of all vaccine doses in Italy have been Pfizer, Moderna, or Astra Zeneca. Roughly 3% received J&J.
Because of these factors, Italy's Ministry of Health has changed to a different approach when it comes to the handling of Covid. As "cases" no longer correlate with meaningful sickness to the larger degree, they are no longer using "cases" as an indicator for decision making. Instead, they are focusing more specifically on hospitalizations, and a focus on stop-gap measures while the younger population catches up.
With that in mind, the new guidelines are all about limiting unvaccinated people in crowded or confined places while they continue the vaccine rollout. As such, some places may simply require that people carry proof of vaccination, proof of covid recovery, or a recent negative Covid test. This is what they call the Green Pass. More on that below.
Italy considers a person fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received their second dose of Pfizer, Astra Zeneca or Moderna, or two weeks after receiving the single-dose J&J vaccine. No other vaccines are approved in Italy.
Current Vaccination Status
As of today, according to the European CDC, Italy has reached 73.5% of the population over 12 as having received at least one dose, with 60% having completed the full vaccine. Portugal has reached 81% with first does, and 65.5% having completed the full vaccine. These numbers vary a bit depending on the source because of data reporting lag, so we are going with the European CDC as an overall guide. Italy is currently administering about 3.9 million vaccine doses per week. At that rate, by Sep 1st, Italy will have well-surpassed the 80% vaccination threshold, and by mid September will be nearing 90%. Portugal is administering roughly 700,000 per week, but considering that the popultion of Portugal is roughly 1/6 that of Italy, the trajectory is about the same.
Vaccine Hesitation in Italy
It would be dishonest to say that there are not people against vaccination in Italy. That is something found worldwide, and we take no position on the topic except to report what we observe in the statistics and general sentiment. We have seen that the vaccine has been highly politicized in North America, and vaccine hesitancy in North America is a combination of those that are Anti-Vax for all kinds of vaccines, as well as those that are getting all kinds of conflicting information through news media outlets, causing a different kind of vaccine hesitancy. As with everywhere, Covid has also been a political firestorm in Italy as well. However, the vaccine itself has not been. While there was certainly some vaccine hesitancy in Europe as well, there has also been a great deal of transparency in data. This recent wave with the Delta variant has pretty much convinced those that were still unsure to get the vaccine, as it has been abundantly clear that virtually all new cases have been with unvaccinated people. As such, there has been a massive surge in vaccine reservations among those in the over 30 age groups, and virtually every vaccine reservation is filling up, everywhere in the country.
The Trajectory of Covid in Italy and Portugal
The Delta variant has certainly brought with it an increase of cases during the month of July. However, when you chart out the weekly activity of each wave to date, you can see a clear correlation of timing between new cases, followed shortly by a corresponding increase in hospitalizations and ICU admissions, and then a corresponding increase by similar percentage in fatalities. This latest wave is entirely different. In Italy, the cases themselves began to trend upward, but recoveries are pacing upward along with cases, while hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths remain flat. In Portugal, Delta began to rise earlier than in Italy, and is already on a downward trend with very similar numbers of very low hospitalizations and deaths. It is a clear indicator that while people are testing positive, more are recovering very quickly without illness, and the low numbers of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths in both countries remain almost entirely among unvaccinated.
Masking in Italy
People still wear masks when indoors, and there is no outdoor mask mandate. Typically, people carry masks with them, put them on while they enter a restaurant, and take them off when they sit down. The use of masks varies depending on location, but typically the northern areas that had the big outbreaks are still more mask conscious, while in Central and Southern Italy they are used far less. It is still required by law for restaurant staff or store clerks to either wear a mask of have some form of shielding, but even that is getting less common, especially as people are seeing that those that are vaccinated are simply not getting hit by the Delta variant.
The "Green" Pass
If you have seen any news coverage of Europe, you surely have heard of the "Green Pass" system being implemented. Many have written us with a fair amount of confusion, so here it is in the simplest of terms:
If you were not vaccinated in Europe, for now you cannot get the digital green pass. However, there are many things that are accepted as a substitute for the Green Pass, and as such, are considered a Green Pass. You probably already have what you need. Any one of the following is accepted as a Green Pass:
- An official vaccination certificate from your home country, showing that more then two weeks have passed since your first dose of one of the following vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, Astra Zeneca. The certificate must show that your most recent vaccine does was no more than 9 months prior to presenting the card.
- If you are not vaccinated, a medical certificate from your home country, showing that you have recovered from Covid within six months.
- If you are not vaccinated, and have not recovered from Covid within 6 months, a negative rapid antigen test no more than 48 hours old.
This is all that is needed to have something that is recognized as a green pass. The larger confusion in Europe is how and where it will be required. In order to enter Italy, you need to meet these requirements, and a little something more (info below), but the confusion is about how it will be required once you are in Italy (this same confusion applies to Italian citizens themselves). The plan is that crowded places like INDOOR restaurants are supposed to start requiring them as of August 6th. However, it is still unclear how (or even if) this will actually be implemented. For the sake of our guests, simply know that we are on top of it, and will make sure that any of the logistics involved will be handled by us. For example, if something is needed before going to a restaurant, our team will deal with all of that before we even arrive.
The following rules are valid as of this writing. Always check with your airline to see if there are any changes a few days before your departure
Digital Passenger Locator Form
Before coming to Italy, everyone must fill out what is called a Digital Passenger Locator form. It is a very simple online application. Once you fill it out, you can print it or save the QR code to present to customs before entry. You can fill it out here: Digital Passenger Locator Form.
If you are fully vaccinated:
Anyone from Europe with a EU Digital Green Pass may enter with no quarantine or testing requirements. anyone from the United States or Canada may also enter with the US or Canadian official vaccine card with no quarantine or testing requirements.
If you are not fully vaccinated and have not recovered from Covid within 6 months:
You will need to come on a "Covid Tested Flight". The day before your flight, you will need to get a Covid Test (Rapid Tests are allowed), and will need to provide proof of the test before your board your flight to Italy. When you arrive in Italy, as you go through customs, you will be taken to an area that will do another rapid test. As of this writing they charge 20 Euros for the test, and accept only credit cards. Once you are cleared as Covid negative, you can proceed without any quarantine.
Keep in mind that while in Italy, if you are not vaccinated or do not have proof of recovery from Covid within six months, you will need to get a rapid antigen test every 48 hours if you enter any crowded indoor places. We will be sure to have availability for guests to get tested as needed. We also expect that the BinaxNOW Antigen Self Test Kit will be allowed, but will confirm that before any of our guests come. Keep in mind that there is the normal self-test kit you find at drug stores, and the guided self-test kit that pairs with an app that you get online from eMed. We expect the later to be the one accepted. If they are allowed, plan to bring one for every two days, plus one for reentry into the United States. You can order them here.. Many insurance plans cover these tests.
If you are not fully vaccinated but HAVE been Covid Positive:
A signed medical note showing that you have had Covid and recovered from it is considered sufficient for entry without quarantine, and also as the "green pass." We strongly urge you to contact your airline for help to assure that your note is in a format that will be accepted.
Returning to North America
As of this writing, all people returning to North America must get a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departing Europe. For people entering the United States, you may use the guided self-test kit from eMed that you can order by clicking here. The test is needed even if you are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid. Canadians, however, need to get a PCR test. In either case, if you are with CDV within 72 hours of your trip home, we will help you get the test you need with no stress at all.
This new change in Italy's policy is specifically a stopgap measure to lower cases that are happening among those mostly younger people that are still unvaccinated. Virtually everyone on our team is fully vaccinated, as are all of our partners. The number of cases is no longer an indicator in Italy because symptomatic infections are simply not tracking with positive tests like they used to. These are almost entirely younger people that have not received their full vaccine yet, and by the time our vacations start up again, an additional 18 million doses will have been administered, and nation-wide vaccination rate is anticipated to be well over 80% in addition to those that already have natural immunity.
April 7, 2021
Wow, has this been a tough year, but we have an amazing team, and amazing guests that have been wonderful throughout! When we hear about businesses that have had a rough time because of Covid, we often hear about the struggling restaurants that had to close for a few months, or only do outdoor or delivery service. We have been the forgotten ones, required to entirely shut down 100% of our operations for a year and a half, and still not considered in the greater need for "stimulus." Fortunately, we are more than a business. We are a family! So we are ready to go in Autumn of 2021!
So what will that look like? Well, I am not gonna lie... it will be a party! We have missed all of you so much, and we have missed one another! As we open up those kitchens, rev up those engines, and get ready to pick our family up at the airport, you can expect a newly invigorated CDV!
We can't wait to see who will get the honor of uncorking that first bottle of wine... and the second, and the third, and the 500th ;-)
See you soon!
With all of our love and gratitude,
All of us at CDV