Italy testing chaos as new rules require travellers to prove they are virus free

Travellers to Italy are facing chaos after being told they can’t use NHS tests to meet a new requirement to prove they don’t have the virus on entering the country, and also learning some Italian airports are only offering the service nine to five.

The plans of people with holidays already booked to the mediterranean country were thrown into disarray earlier this week when Italian health minister Roberto Speranza announced they would need to have a negative within 72 hours of arrival.

The confusion was compounded when the Foreign Office advised that travelers would not be able to use the NHS testing system to satisfy the requirement.

Currently, people can only get a Covid-19 test in the UK if they are showing symptoms or for other medical circumstances such before heading into hospital for surgery.

The UK’s testing capacity has also struggled to keep up with demand in recent weeks.

Advice on the Foreign Office’s website for those travelling to Italy, said: “You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.”

This has left people facing booking private tests that can cost upwards of £150 a person, but that also cannot guarantee to be delivered within the 72-hour period. 

Passengers tested in the UK will have to present a valid negative certificate on arrival. 

Meanwhile, tourists travelling by air have been told they will be allowed to enter the country if they are tested just after landing. 

Yet, not all Italian airports are currently offering tests to incoming passengers, with others only offering the service during working hours.

Italy’s health ministry has warned that anyone entering the country without a test could be charged with a crime.

The confusion led to people saying they were cancelling their trips rather than face the scramble for a test or roulette of trying to get one after landing.

One UK traveller on twitter wrote: “Just cancelled our week’s holiday to Sicily. Meant to be going for half term [but] the testing situation is too risky and also quarantine could come in at any time.”

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