MILAN — Italy’s health minister signed an ordinance Tuesday requiring any unvaccinated visitor from another EU country to quarantine for five days after arriving in a bid to block spread of the omicron variant.
Under the new requirement taking effect Wednesday, vaccinated visitors from EU countries must get a negative test within 24 hours of arrival to circulate freely in Italy. Non-EU citizens who are not vaccinated must quarantine for 10 days.
Italian media reported that European Union authorities in Brussels have objected to the measures, which appear to circumvent the EU digital health certificate that confirms a person’s vaccination status.
Portugal adopted a similar measure on Dec. 1, requiring a mandatory negative test for all flights arriving in Portugal, even for people with health passes and regardless of their point of origin or nationality.
Italy on Tuesday recorded over 20,000 new infections and 120 COVID deaths, the highest single-day death tally in the new surge.
In other measures, Italy is expanding the vaccine mandate, beginning Wednesday, to school personnel, law enforcement, the military and anyone working in a health care setting. It previously applied only to health care workers and anyone working in a nursing home.
The region of Veneto is expected to adopt additional restrictions next week, including outdoor mask requirements, as hospitals begin to restrict nonessential procedures. Two regions and one autonomous province are already yellow zones.
Italy has only officially confirmed fewer than a dozen omicron cases, all stemming from business travelers returning from southern Africa.
Some 77% of the Italian population is vaccinated with two shots, with the campaign expanding from Wednesday to children ages 5-11. Booster shots are available to anyone 18 and over five months after the second shot.