What it’s like to visit Italy on Day 1 of the vaccine pass mandate

Aug 6, 2021

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Still waiting to get your COVID-19 vaccine? You might be able to travel to Italy, but life’s going to be a big pain in the butt once you’re there.

With the delta variant wreaking havoc and vaccines now widely available in much of the world, Italy has become one of the first countries in the world to require proof of vaccination to visit museums, dine in restaurants, use public transportation and access most other indoor venues. The country’s move follows a similar mandate in France, which began rolling out last month.

Travelers who aren’t able to get vaccinated yet may be able to gain access to venues by showing a negative COVID-19 test from the last 48 hours, but given how incredibly contagious and deadly the delta variant can be, it’s ideal to continue sheltering in place — and certainly not travel — if you have yet to be vaccinated.

My CDC card and I are having a lovely time in Venice. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

On the other hand, if you have completed your vaccine series, Italy’s ready to welcome you with open arms. I flew from Newark (EWR) to Milan (MXP) earlier this week, and have had absolutely no trouble getting into and around the country just by flashing my CDC-issued vaccination card.

As of today, Aug. 6, this card is also your golden ticket to Italy’s indoor venues. Anyone 12 years or older will need it to access venues that fall into any of the below categories:

  • Restaurants, bars, ice cream parlors and pastry shops for consumption at table indoors
  • Performances open to the public, sporting events, both outdoors and indoors
  • Museums and places of culture, shows
  • Swimming pools and gyms
  • Private parties, such as wedding receptions
  • Festivals and trade fairs
  • Conventions and congresses
  • Spas and fitness centers
  • Gaming halls and betting shops, bingo halls and casinos

Individuals vaccinated in Italy are eligible for the country’s “Green Pass,” which has the same entry power as the CDC card. Travelers with the EU Digital COVID Certificate, or passes issued by Canada, Japan, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States may also display their card along with a government-issued photo ID to access indoor venues.

I’m in Venice at the moment and used my CDC card and New York State driver’s license to enter the Doge’s Palace. The experience was as anticlimactic as one might hope — a guard checked my name and spent a couple of seconds hunting around for the word “Moderna,” then sent me on my way. (That’s the exact moment where he found it in the picture below.)

A CDC-issued card is all you need in Italy. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

After hearing of Benét Wilson’s success in France, I did go into a pharmacy in Milan to see about getting my CDC certificate “converted” to an Italian Green Pass. The pharmacist was eager to help, but wasn’t able to create an account. Ultimately, the CDC card is accepted everywhere a Green Pass is, so vaccinated Americans should be a-okay.

All of the vaccines in use in the U.S. are accepted in Italy, including those manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer. AstraZeneca’s vaccine can also be used, but as with the other three, you need to be “fully vaccinated” — no one shot and done, unless you got the Johnson & Johnson shot.

Given this new requirement, and the extreme risk of death for unvaccinated people exposed to the delta variant, I would strongly recommend postponing any international travel — and certainly trips to especially strict countries like France and Italy — until you’ve completed your vaccine.

The vaccines remain our best chance of surviving exposure to COVID-19, and they’re incredibly safe and effective. The ability to travel internationally might also help convince unvaccinated people to get the jab, as will mandates from domestic destinations, like New York City, and companies, like United.

Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy

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