Singapore residents will no longer be able to travel to Italy for leisure from Thursday.
The Italian embassy in Singapore said on Wednesday that its Health Ministry has moved Singapore and Brunei to a list of countries deemed to be of higher risk of Covid-19 infections. Travellers from countries on the list may enter Italy only for work, health or study reasons, out of absolute urgency or to return to their homes. Tourists, however, are banned.
Exemptions may be granted in specific cases, such as if the tourist is a citizen of a European Union member state or has a partner staying in Italy.
The embassy said that those who are still allowed to enter Italy must self-isolate for 10 days at a declared address.
Travellers from Singapore will still be able to transit through Italy's airports to other destinations, provided they do not exit designated areas within the airports.
These restrictions will stay in place from Thursday till Jan 31 next year.
The embassy did not specify its reasons for changing Singapore's Covid-19 risk classification.
The Straits Times has contacted the embassy on what the new rules mean for travellers set to fly to Italy and for Singaporean tourists who are there now.
Flag carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA) said it will contact customers on upcoming flights to Italy to notify them of the new travel restrictions.
Customers who have booked tickets directly with SIA can seek a refund. SIA also advised those who have made bookings through travel agents or partner airlines to contact their travel agent or purchasing airline for assistance.
SIA added that it will continue to operate vaccinated travel lane (VTL) flights from Italy to Singapore.
Singapore began a VTL with Italy on Oct 19, restoring two-way quarantine-free travel between the two countries. Italy had earlier opened up to Singapore.
As Singapore's VTL with Italy is unilateral, Italy's latest move will not immediately affect quarantine-free entry from the country into the Republic. This means eligible travellers who are currently in Italy will still be able to use the VTL to enter Singapore without having to self-isolate for days.
Their entry will be effected only in the case that Singapore suspends the VTL.
Italy's move to ban Singapore tourists is the most significant setback so far for those looking for quarantine-free travel to countries under the VTL scheme.
No other country on this scheme that allows entry to Singapore travellers has barred them following the emergence of the Covid-19 Omicron variant in late November.
But several have tightened testing requirements, and Australia also introduced a three-day quarantine for all arriving travellers.
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