Italy will require proof of vaccination or negative test for social activities

The Italian government on Thursday said it would require people to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test in order to participate in certain social activities, including indoor dining, visiting museums and attending shows.

The move follows a similar announcement made by the French government last week, and comes as debate in Western countries intensifies over how far governments should – or can – go to limit people’s lives. not vaccinated.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week his government plans to require proof of vaccination to enter nightclubs and similar venues by the end of September, but the idea was met with a backlash fast policy and not yet certain to move forward. .

The increased use of the Italian health pass, which Italian authorities refer to as ‘green certification’, aims both to encourage more vaccinations and to mitigate the spread of the Delta variant, which is already causing an increase in the number of cases of coronavirus across the continent.

“The Delta variant of the virus is threatening,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at a press conference Thursday evening. “We must act on the Covid-19 front,” he added, to continue to allow the Italian economy to recover. A spokesperson for the prime minister said companies should enforce the requirements and would be punished if caught breaking them.

Without these measures, the Italian government has said it may be forced to reintroduce new restrictions in a country that suffered the first and one of the strictest lockdowns in the West. The Italian government is particularly concerned about the spread of the virus among the two million people over the age of 60 who are still not fully vaccinated.

Just over 50 percent of Italians over the age of 12 – around 28 million people – are fully vaccinated, according to the Italian government.

But the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said the spread of the Delta variant was on the increase. The organization predicted that by the end of August, the Delta variant would account for 90 percent of coronavirus infections in the European Union.

Discussions on introducing compulsory vaccination in Italy followed the announcement of a similar measure last week by French President Emmanuel Macron, who said proof of vaccination or a negative test would be compulsory to access cultural places, amusement parks, restaurants, shopping centers, hospitals, retirement homes and long-distance transport.

According to several polls, around 70% of Italians were in favor of France’s example, but this week’s discussion of introducing similar demands has created deep rifts within the Italian coalition government, which includes the Party. Italian Democrat but also Matteo Salvini’s Nationalist League party.

Mr Salvini – who said he had not yet been vaccinated – opposed what he called “the exclusion of 30 million Italians from social life”. At a rally on Sunday, he said he “refused to see anyone chasing my 18-year-old son with a swab or syringe” as migrants docked “in loaded wagons in Sicily” without any evidence of negative swab or vaccination.

From August 6, Italians will need to prove that they have received at least one dose of the vaccine, that they have recently taken a negative sample, or that they have recovered from Covid in the past six months in order to sit at indoor tables in bars and restaurants; access museums, swimming pools, gymnasiums and theme parks; and attending sports competitions and other events, including public examinations.

“The call not to get vaccinated is a call to die,” Draghi said Thursday. “Without vaccinations, we have to close everything. “

Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza has said the state of emergency will be extended until December 31 and that the number of hospitalizations, not the number of coronavirus cases, will now be the dominant criterion to assess restrictions in Italian regions.

Two-thirds of Italy’s population – around 40 million Italians – have already downloaded the pass, said Speranza, which was previously required to attend weddings or visit nursing homes.

He said the laissez-passer is a condition to “allow economic activities to remain open” and Italians to continue to sit in restaurants and bars “with the guarantee of being surrounded by people who are not. contagious “.

In April, as epidemics escalated in hospitals where healthcare professionals chose not to be vaccinated, Italy became the first country in Europe to make vaccination compulsory for medical staff. Around 15 percent of Italian teachers are still not vaccinated and the government is currently debating whether to extend the mandate to school staff as well.

“School is a top priority,” said Mr. Speranza. “We need to assess all the tools available to catch the remaining 15%. “

Joel C. Hicks