Travel with Italy in the Age of Covid
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Travel Info for 2021
Sep 10: Testing before traveling to Italy - UPDATE
(From Michael) - First I want to clarify that Italy requires a negative Covid Antigen test to be carried out within 72 hours before your arrival. Many guests and friends have had lots of conflicting and confusing information from airlines, consulate sites, and travel agents. Please, please please. The requirement is a negative antigen test within 72 hours of your arrival. This is the simple "rapid" test, not the PCR test. If another source tells you otherwise, remember, I just went through it. That said, an update from my Sep 7th message listed below: I was able to travel to Italy using the eMed self test it. This is NOT the one you buy in Walgreens, but the one I have listed on the pages here. This one pairs with an app, and you are guided through the test via video chat. They checked it on the U.S. side of my flight, as well as the Digital Passenger Locator form, and once we arrived in Italy, no checking was done. I assume this is because the airline had to validate it before our flight.
About the eMed tests: First, if you order them, order them early. Mine arrived next day, but we have heard of people that have had to wait 5 or 6 days for delivery. Also, when I took the test, the wait time for a proctor was about 20 minutes, but we have heard that some people have had to wait hours. I imagine they are getting many more people using the service, as when we arrived in Rome, the airport has easily ten times the passengers we experienced in June and August. People are certainly traveling again! Because of the wait times that can cary, you might consider a different self-test kit called Ellume. With that one you can actually schedule the test time, so you will not have to wait. You can get it by clicking here.
Again, the guided self-test kit was accepted for the trip to Italy, and if you get another one, it will be accepted for re-entry into the United States as well.
Sep 7: Personal Experience using the eMed Self-Test Kit
(From Michael) - Today I used one of the "Guided Self Tests" from eMed with the Navica app. I will be seeing if this is accepted for my trip to go TO Italy. In doing so, I thought I would describe the experience. I logged into the Navica App and clicked the button to start the test. When I did that, it prompted me to go to a normal computer to perform the test for the next step. I could have also opened a browser on my phone to do the next step, but I used my laptop. I had to log in again, and chose to start test. I was then given a message that there would be a 24 minute wait for a "test proctor" to com online. It turned out to be about 10 minutes. Once connected, they asked me to show them my test kit, to show it had not been opened. Then I needed to show my ID and confirm my name and date of birth. Next they had me open the kit, and show the QR code in front of my camera so that they could synchronize the actual kit I was using. Next they asked me to open the card and put six drops of an included liquid in one spot, then open the swab, and swab both nostrils about 1/2" up with looking at the camera. Nest they asked me to insert the swab in a hole in the card, and close it. At that point, a 15 minute timer started on my computer screen. When the timer ended, there was another wait of about a minute to have someone else come online to confirm the results. Simply put, one pink line meant I was negative. They confirmed, and we were done. Within 5 minutes, I had an email with a PDF that showed my negative results, and I could also see my results in the Navica app. Note that I still do not know if this will be accepted in Europe, but will be trying on my flight over. I have a back-up test at a Walgreens just in case. However, it is absolutely confirmed that this test is allowed for re-entry into the United States.
Sep 1, 2021
Despite the guidance announced by the European Union, Italy and Portugal ARE accepting North American travelers for non-essential travel. Italy has only made a change to require a negative Covid test for all passengers before your flight, and Portugal has made no changes. Italy's new guidance has been promised to be in effect until at least October 25th, so we do not expect any changes. Please check our Ready2Go pages regularly by clicking here.
Aug 30, 2021
Two huge pieces of news surfaced over the weekend that has many wondering. First is that Europe is placing new restrictions on travelers from North America. The second news story is that Sicily has the highest Covid rate in Italy. Both of these are sensationalized headlines which affect us VERY little. Please read on for context,
(1) The European Union did issue new guidance to its member countries to take them off of the "safe list." However, it was a highly disputed decision, and each country in Europe makes its own rules. The EU guidance is merely "guidance." Italy has responded to this by simply requiring a negative Covid test within 72 hours of your arrival if you come from North America (regardless of vaccination status). The reason provided for this change was that the Covid incidence rate in North America is higher than that of Europe, that Europe has surpassed North America in vaccination status, and the Europe is on a downward trend with the Delta wave. Much of the news in Europe covering this decision has stated that it also has a great deal to do with the fact that when Europe opened travel to North America, The United States did not reciprocate, despite the fact that Europe maintained a lower Covid incidence rate than North America.
(2) About Sicily: The Italian government moved Sicily from the "white" color (Very low risk) to the yellow color (Low risk) this weekend. This has sparked many news stories saying Sicily is spiking with the highest Covid rates in the country. This should, however, be put into perspective. Yes it is the highest, but the number of cases and hospitalizations in Italy is extremely low compared to most of us. Italy changes status based entirely on hospital capacity and incidence rate per 100,000 people. Sicily was slower at the vaccine rollout than most of the country, so they naturally got a bigger hit from the Delta wave this summer, but the curve has flattened and is starting to go down. So how does Sicily look compared to where you live? Probably a lot better! As of this weekend, Sicily had 16 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, and that is the highest in Italy. But by comparison, California had 22 hospitalizations per 100,000 people. Texas had 49, Arizona is at 29, and Illinois was at 17. Florida, which has been all over the news was at 79 - 500% more than Sicily!
Updating our Ready2Go App
The app on these pages that tells you what you need is currently being updated as we sort out the new rules. Please check back in the next day.
Aug 23, 2021
Find Out What You Need for Travel With Us This Year!
If you are coming on one of our 2021 trips, you may be wondering what all the travel requirements are! We get it. It can be daunting trying to figure out what you need to go there, when you need it, what happens once you were there, what about connections, and what you need to return home. But we have don exhaustive research, and made a super easy way for you to get all the info you need! Keep in mind that this information can change, but we are keeping an eye on it daily for changes. So click here to see what you need for your 2021 travels with CDV.
Aug 3, 2021
ALL OF OUR LATE SUMMER AND FALL 2021 VACATIONS ARE A GREEN LIGHT TO GO
All about coming to Italy & Portugal this year, The Green Pass, vaccinations, and the Delta variant
This page gives details about what is going on in Italy, and helps to allay concerns some guests may have. However, we have published another page with more information and detailed charts that shows a comparison with the various waves of Covid in Europe, and really lays out a solid and factual case with data directly from the ministry of health. We strongly suggest everyone read it in detail, even if much of the information is redundant after reading this page. Click here to read the detail page with charts.
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.
- On July 1, 2021 there were 229 patients in CCU or ICU. On August 1st, 2021, despite the uptick in cases, there were 230 patients in CCU or ICU - A net increase of 1.
- 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 61% of all Italian residents over 12 have been fully vaccinated. More than 84% 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 34% are fully vaccinated, and more than 51% have at least received their first dose. 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 significantly 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. They have gone with a color system of White, Yellow, Orange and Red for each region. White for VERY Low Risk, Yellow for Low Risk, Orange for High Risk, and Red for Very High Risk. Currently all regions in Italy are "White," despite the recent uptick in cases.
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 61% 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 population 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 no 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, 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 and Portugal
People still wear masks when indoors, and there is no outdoor mask mandate in Italy. Portugal mandates outdoor masks only where social distancing is not possible. 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. The situation in Portugal is similar. 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 final dose of one of the following vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, Astra Zeneca. Note that the Astra Zeneca vaccine is currently not accepted in Portugal. 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 neither of the above apply, 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 and hotels are supposed to start requiring them as of August 6th. However, it is still unclear how (or even if) this will actually be implemented in reality. 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.
Entering Italy or Portugal
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. This is not required for Portugal.
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, but have not recovered from Covid within 6 months of your trip:
You can provide proof of recovery without need for vaccine certificate. Contact your airline for details.
If you are not fully vaccinated and have not recovered from Covid within 6 months:
You will need to get a Covid Test (Rapid Tests are allowed) before your flight, and it must be time stamped 48 hours or less before you arrive in Italy or Portugal. You will need to provide proof of the test before your board your flight.
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.
Cancellations or Postponements
During the pandemic, CDV heavily relaxed all of its cancellation policies, allowing guests to rebook at any time, no matter what. This comes at significant cost to us, because we pay non-refundable deposits on our guests behalf. With our greatest desire to honor all of our guests, we made the decision to swallow all of those losses during the height of the pandemic, such that we will be operating at a loss for hundreds of guests that changed their dates. Now, for 2021, we have made those deposits again for those that have moved their trips, and they are once again non-refundable for us. Given that we now have a functional vaccine that has been highly effective, and the pandemic is mostly limited to those having chosen not to get the vaccine, we have made the decision to return to our normal cancellation policy. If you are still on the fence, please read this page for more information about the realities of Covid in Europe.
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