How to Travel to Italy or Malta in Times of COVID

Are you a travel enthusiast who remembers international travel bringing excitement to the destination? The only thing you needed to worry about was what clothes you should pack and what exciting adventures were ahead. You were ready to go when you had your passport, your money, and your sense for adventure.

Those days are gone. At least, for a little while. Your travel file now has an additional layer of security. Pandemic terms such as negative antigen testing or PCR testing and QR codes, contact tracing and CDC vaccine cards have become the norm.

Many avid travelers, including me, have felt disillusioned over the past 20 months of trips being cancelled, rebooked, and canceled again. Resuming travel today requires that you accept new and sometimes difficult rules.

Post-Pandemic Travel Needs to Countries Like Malta

This was evident when I planned my first international post-pandemic vacation to Italy in October 2021. My excitement over my trip had to be put aside by the stress of navigating COVID travel regulations.

I completed the entry forms with the anxiety that “what if it doesn’t go as planned?”. This fear can seem overwhelming, and you may be warned that your application for admission to the’said country’ could be rejected if it doesn’t comply with requirements.

You could sink without a smartphone. One woman I met had a phone that didn’t have the functionality or space to upload and download all of her EU entry forms, vaccine cards, or Verifly apps required to enter Malta.

Prepare for the Current Malta and Italy Travel Requirements

This should not stop you from travelling. Be prepared and armed with all necessary information and documentation. Remember that each country in the European Union has its own COVID regulations.

It seems that it is fashionable to change these requirements without prior notice. We were surprised to find out that there was a last-minute change days before we left.

PLF (Passenger Locator Form)

The PLF is one of the requirements for travel to Italy. To request a passenger locator for Italy, download Complete the form with all required information and a password.

You will receive an immediate email instructing you to reopen the site with your password in order to download the actual form. Keep track of your password in case you need it to fill out a PLF form for another EU country.

Contact tracing is possible with the PLF. Expect questions about flight numbers, connecting flight information, and even your seat number for each flight. I needed to reserve a seat for one leg to Venice. You can add passengers to the same reservation at the end with only identification data.

This form must be completed no later than 72 hours prior to your departure. Failure to complete the form within this time frame could lead to a denial. You will receive an approval Q-R square within minutes of submitting the form.

This can be printed or scanned into your phone. If you don’t get a reply immediately, there is something wrong.

COVID Vaccination card

COVID tests and Vaccination Cards

Another requirement for Italy is negative COVID antigen testing from an approved testing facility. This must be completed within 48 hours of your arrival in Italy.

The hourly window for the negative test was changed by the Italian government from 72 to 48 hours four days prior to our departure. Because I am from Mexico, I had to take a negative test in order to fly to Houston. After flying overnight to Frankfurt, and then to Venice, the test was still valid. I was almost done with the stress and hours spent calculating.

The PLF, CDC vaccination cards and the negative antigen test were all available to me at the airline counter. The PLF Q-R code was scanned by the agent. She then took my word for the negative test and looked at our CDC vaccination cards.

It all depends on who you choose to represent you. Our sweet agent thought we were trustworthy and well-mannered. A second couple had a different experience. Their agent refused to accept their negative antigen tests and stated that their PLF was not completed correctly. They were taken to a back room.

Frankfurt was our first entry point to the EU. I was prepared for grueling scrutiny. We were fortunate to have luck as we crossed the ocean blue. Our CDC vaccination cards were accepted by the immigration agent who wanted EU Green Passes.

After a thorough inspection of the items, he motioned to us to proceed. I was shocked. I was stunned.

I was sure that I had already lost at least three nights’ sleep due to the timing of these results. I pushed the results through the document slot. He declined. I wanted to scream.

Restrictions in Italy

In Italy, masks could not be worn in any building. European fashion recommends that you slip a mask onto your upper arm so that chic cover-ups can be easily accessible for frequent on-and-offs.

To enter cathedrals, museums, and other facilities, you needed to have a CDC vaccination card. We saw so many people with dog-eared papers that I was able to laminate our cards.

The entry clerk at an old fort in Monopoli apparently hadn’t processed any Americans since the pandemic. After taking a look at our CDC cards with his phone, he made us complete a form. He then looked puzzled and said, “Americans, Americans”.

Ordering a meal was a challenge. Or, more accurately, frustration. We finally discovered Q-R codes at a seaside restaurant. One for English and one to Italian were printed on an olive oil can.

Only then could I order entrees. First, I had to connect to the restaurant’s WIFI and then scan the code to my smartphone.

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