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S. Korea excluded from Italy’s quarantine-free travel scheme

Italy's Florence is one of the popular tourist destinations for Korean travelers. (Reuters-Yonhap)
Italy's Florence is one of the popular tourist destinations for Korean travelers. (Reuters-Yonhap)
It may take more time for South Korean people to travel to Italy without a 10-day quarantine requirement as the nation has been excluded from an initial list of countries that are subject to the Italian government’s new quarantine-free travel scheme, called certificazione verde, or green pass.

Starting this month, quarantine-free travel is allowed in Italy for people from the US, Canada, Israel and Japan as well as those from EU countries if they present a digital health certificate that proves they have been fully vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from COVID-19.

Korea’s Foreign Ministry had also sought to get the green pass, but the request was not accepted. Korea reportedly asked the Italian government to include Korea, citing its successful control of the coronavirus pandemic and strong travel demand.

Under Italy’s own quarantine rules, Korea is one of the lowest-risk countries, along with Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand. Italy is one of the most popular tourist destinations for travelers here, with almost 1 million Korean people visiting the country every year.

Korean residents in Italy and Seoul officials expected that beneficiaries of the new Italian scheme could be extended in phases, but raised questions about the unclear criteria.

Japan, for instance, has a higher fatality rate but a lower vaccination rate compared to Korea.

According to Our World in Data on Monday, Korea’s vaccination rate, at about 30 percent, is lower than Canada’s 68 percent, Israel’s 65 percent and the US’ 54 percent. But the figure is still higher than Japan’s 23.7 percent.

Japan’s fatality rate is 0.07 deaths per 1 million people, which compares to Korea’s 0.02 deaths. Total deaths per 1 million were 116.92 people in Japan, almost triple the 39.52 of Korea.

Italy said they had reviewed diverse factors regarding COVID-19 situations in different countries but did not unveil details.

In the meantime, the Korean government also allows quarantine-free travel from this month when fully vaccinated people visit their direct family here. People from 21 countries, including India and Indonesia, cannot benefit from the scheme amid a surge in delta variant cases around the world.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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