Italy VTL: Italy adds Singapore to “Covid-free tourist corridors” scheme from 1 February, but extends ban on tourists from Singapore

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Is Italy reopening its borders to Singapore tourists? Possibly- but that depends on how you read their latest ordinance.

Back in mid-December, Italy unceremoniously added Singapore to its dreaded “List E”, which barred travellers from Singapore from entering Italy for leisure purposes.

This, quite frankly, made no sense at all. Singapore’s reopening wave was well and truly on the wane by that time, with the country boasting one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. I thought long and hard about sending some Hawaiian pizzas to the Italian embassy by way of protest, along with classic Italian dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, as well as carbonara with cream.

Even the Italian ambassador was befuddled by the decision, speculating that it could be a clerical error (it wasn’t). 

“We are writing to Italy’s MOH (health ministry) to ask them to review their choice of banning Singapore travellers to Italy for leisure. I would like to believe it is a clerical mistake or error to refer to Singapore’s removal from the EU list that was published on Nov 9 to make a decision now.”

The ordinance was to remain in effect till 31 January 2022, and now there’s a new development: from 1 February 2022, Italy will add Singapore to its “Covid-free tourist corridors” scheme.

However, this doesn’t mean that tourists from Singapore can flock to Italy once again. Instead, the scheme is meant to facilitate the travel of Italian tourists to Singapore, while the ban on tourists from Singapore will continue until at least 15 March 2022. 

Italy adds Singapore to “Covid-free tourist corridors” scheme

From 1 February 2022, Italy will remove all testing requirements for Green Pass holders, and add Singapore (plus five other countries) to its “Covid-free tourist corridors” scheme. 

The Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, signed a new ordinance, effective 1 February 2022, on the measures for arrivals to Italy from abroad. For travellers from countries of the European Union, all that will be needed is the “Green Pass”, without the need for a swab. 

In the same ordinance are also extended and prolonged the measures relating to the “Covid-free tourist corridors” that will also cover additional destinations: Cuba, Singapore, Turkey, Thailand (limited to the island of Phuket), Oman and French Polynesia.

Here’s a link to the new ordinance, for those who read Italian. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that tourists from Singapore can visit Italy again, because the “Covid-free tourist corridors” scheme was created with tourists from Italy in mind. 

Under the “Covid-free tourist corridors” scheme, tourists from Italy are required to travel on controlled itineraries and stay in approved accommodation while outside of Italy. They must also undergo testing overseas if their stay is longer than seven days. 

“COVID-free tourist travel corridors” include all itineraries departing from and arriving in Italy, with the purpose of enabling controlled tourist travel, including stays in selected tourist accommodation, according to specific health safety measures that guarantee compliance with the protocols included in the document “Indications for preventing and protecting against the risk of COVID-19 in COVID-free travel corridors”, annexed to the Ordinance of 28 September 2021.

Such tour groups will be exempt from quarantine on return to Italy, provided they present a negative COVID-19 ART/PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure to Italy. 

Tourists from Singapore would not be able to visit Italy under this arrangement, because they weren’t on a controlled itinerary and didn’t stay in approved accommodations (I don’t imagine my house counts as one) while outside of Italy.  

Singapore remains on List E

In the latest list of country categorisations, which remains in effect till 15 March 2022, Singapore remains on List E.

This means that any individual whose 14-day travel history includes Singapore is prohibited from entering Italy for tourism purposes. Exceptions exist for the following groups: 

  1. Those (or their family members) with Italian/EU/Schengen citizenship, or hold long-term resident status
  2. Those with a “proven and stable emotional relationship” with someone who has Italian/EU/Schengen citizenship, or holds long-term resident status, and needs to reach their partner’s residence in Italy
  3. Athletes, technicians, competition judges and officials, foreign press representatives and accompanying persons participating in competitive sports competitions

Even then, they’ll still need to serve 10 days quarantine on arrival in Italy.

To be clear, this restriction is based on travel history, not nationality. A Singapore passport holder who has spent the last 14 days outside Singapore (and other List E countries) may enter Italy for tourism purposes, subject to the usual regulations and COVID-19 testing. 

Given the borderless nature of the EU, one of the questions I’m seeing asked online is “how will they know?” Suppose a Singaporean resident travels to Germany, then onwards to Italy- would that work?

Well, leaving aside the ethicality of knowingly circumventing the rules of a country in which you’re a guest, those entering Italy (regardless of transportation mode) are required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form.

One of the questions requires you to list your entire 14-day travel history, and I don’t need to tell you what happens if you knowingly lie on a declaration like this. 

Italy VTL testing cost

As a reminder, here’s how much round-trip travellers from Singapore to Italy could expect to incur in testing costs back in early December 2021, when Singapore tourists were still welcome. 

⚕️ VTL Testing Regime
LocationRemarksPrice
🇸🇬 Singapore24/72h before departure (ART/PCR)
From S$17.84
🇮🇹 Italy2 days before departure (ART/PCR)From €20
(~S$30)
🇸🇬 SingaporeOn arrival in Changi (PCR)S$125
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 2 (ART)*~S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 3 (ART)*~S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 4 (ART)*~S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 5 (ART)*~S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 6 (ART)*~S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 7 (ART)*~S$5
*Only required if you intend to head out of the hotel/home on that day

Children aged below six are exempted from the pre-departure testing requirement when travelling from Singapore to Italy (when travelling from Italy to Singapore, those aged two and below are exempt).

Italy accepts ARTs for pre-departure testing, which significantly reduces costs for travellers. A supervised Tele-ART done in the comfort of your home will cost less than S$20. 

⚕️ Pre-departure COVID Test Pricing
 ARTPCR
At homeFrom S$17.84From S$128
At clinicFrom S$21.40From S$95

For a detailed overview on the cheapest pre-departure tests in Singapore, refer to the post below.

Cheapest pre-departure COVID-19 ART and PCR tests in Singapore

Singapore has simplified its post-arrival testing regime for VTL travellers. From 24 January 2022, there is no longer any need for supervised ART swabs on Days 3 & 7, or to report the results of self-administered ARTs. Travellers will only need to swab themselves during the Day 2-7 period on days they intend to leave their accommodation. 

Recently recovered?

If you’re fully vaccinated and have recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection, you will not be required to undergo pre-departure testing or testing on arrival in Singapore, and will be exempt from SHN regardless of whether you return on a VTL or non-VTL flight. 

This is provided you can present either of the following documents:

  • a positive COVID-19 PCR or professionally-administered ART result dated between 7-90 days before date of departure to Singapore or
  • a discharge memo 

Either document must:

  • state the traveller’s name and at least one other personal identifier (e.g. date of birth, passport number)
  • state the date of infection or discharge date, which must be within 7-90 days before the date of departure for Singapore
  • be issued by a relevant state authority or licensed medical professional

For more details, refer to the article below.

Big news: No more SHN, testing or “14-day stranding” for recently-recovered vaccinated travellers to Singapore

VTL flights from Italy

If your trip to Italy is <14 days, you’ll want to make sure you either fly non-stop, or only transit in Category I or VTL countries en route (since a 14-day travel history that includes non-Category I/non-VTL countries will disqualify you from taking a VTL flight back to Singapore). 

However, travellers will need to take a VTL flight from Italy to Singapore if they wish to avoid a 7-day SHN on arrival. VTL flights from Italy to Singapore are currently operated by Singapore Airlines from Rome and Milan, as per the following schedule.

FlightsDays
SQ353
SMTWTFS
FCO 0820

CPH 1050
     
CPH 1230

SIN 0730 (+1)
     
SQ351
SMTWTFS
FCO 0820

CPH 1050
    
CPH 1230

SIN 0730 (+1)
    
SQ379
SMTWTFS
MXP 1240

SIN 0735 (+1)
    
SQ377
SMTWTFS
MXP 1310

SIN 0805 (+1)
     

Schedules will change after 26 March 2022, so refer to the Singapore Airlines website for the latest information. 

As a reminder, here’s the requirements for VTL travel to Singapore. 

✈️ Summary: VTL travel to Singapore
To Singapore 🇸🇬
  • 14 day travel history: Singapore or any Category I/ VTL country
  • Purchase travel insurance with min. S$30K coverage (short-term visitors only)
  • Apply for VTP (short-term visitors and long-term pass holders only)
  • Fully vaccinated with WHO EUL vaccine (age 12 and below exempt)
  • Complete SG Arrival Card
  • Take pre-departure ART/PCR test 2 days before flight (age 2 and below exempt)
  • Take designated VTL flight to Singapore
  • Take PCR test on arrival in Singapore and isolate until result is out (age 2 and below exempt)
  • Take self-administered ART swabs on Days 2-7 if leaving accommodation (age 2 and below exempt)

Conclusion

Italy will be adding Singapore to its “Covid-free tourist travel corridors” scheme from 1 February 2022, but this is purely meant to facilitate travel for Italian tourists to Singapore, not the other way round. 

Singapore remains on List E until at least 15 March 2022, which means we’re far from the way things were in early December, where Singaporeans could visit Italy with just a pre-departure test. 

Italian speakers (or anyone well-versed with Italian bureaucracy)- can you make sense of the situation?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Jon

I was initially overjoyed until I realised if u translate the circular it means

1) Singapore added to covid-free corridor means there are conditions to be fulfilled
2) the existing restrictions for Singapore visitors extended to 15 mar 2022

Bummer

Matrix.RX1

@Aaron. Italian speaking Singapore resident here. I checked the Italian official documents and I am afraid these COVID-Free-Corridors are only meant for Italian based tourists travelling abroad and booking their trip with a tour operator. This means that if an Italian uses a travel agency with a flight+hotel+extra itinerary, he/she can travel, whereas for instance the same tourist that has a house in one of the listed countries, cannot travel. As for Singaporean based tourists, I am afraid the restrictions have been prolonged until 15th of March 2022.

It's a bummer

I was scheduled to fly from Singapore to Italy tonight 2 Feb (midnight), Singaporean here. Unfortunately, it seems that the flight needs to be cancelled now. Thank you for this article.

Elaine

Hi! There’s a new ordinance saying that rules previously announced by the Italian government will no longer stand: https://www.esteri.it/en/ministero/normativaonline/focus-cittadini-italiani-in-rientro-dall-estero-e-cittadini-stranieri-in-italia/

Does this mean we can travel there freely?

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