On Monday, Italy imposed a slew of new coronavirus restrictions on the unvaccinated, requiring proof of vaccination or recovery from a recent illness to board public transportation, visit cafés, hotels, gyms, and other popular spots.
The new “super” health pass requirement, which eliminates the ability to gain access to services based solely on a negative test result, comes as many Italians returned to work and school following the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and as new COVID-19 infections in Italy have surpassed 100,000 per day.
In response to the omicron-fueled surge of diseases, the government has enacted additional regulations geared at persuading vaccination skeptics to get their shots or face being barred from recreational and even critical activities like taking the bus or metro to work.
The limits, which have recently included outside mask regulations and a common health card to get access to workplaces, have received widespread approval in Italy. Police fanned out at railway stations on Monday to verify passengers’ vaccination status and ensure they were wearing the more protective Ffp2 face masks, which are now compulsory on public transportation.
“I’m glad they’re supervising everything,” Carola Pasqualotto, a member of the Imperi sport center’s front desk, said as she checked members’ immunization status. “I believe that all children should be vaccinated.”
Premier Mario Draghi, on the other hand, has come under fire for his government’s decision last week to require vaccines for everyone aged 50 and over.
Critics argue that the penalty for disobedience, which starts at 100 euros ($113), is much too low to make disobeying the rule painful. Fines for persons in that age range who join their employment starting in mid-February if they haven’t been vaccinated grow dramatically — to as much as 1,600 euros (almost $1,800) — if they haven’t been vaccinated.
Draghi defended the vaccination requirement during a press conference on Monday.
“The statistics shows that individuals over 50 are at higher danger, and that two-thirds of those who aren’t vaccinated end up in intensive care units,” the premier added.
Doctors have also warned that the sudden influx of COVID-19 patients poses a danger that hospitals may be unable to perform routine procedures or provide adequate treatment to non-COVID-19 patients.
Italy, where the coronavirus epidemic first broke out in Europe in February 2020, has fully immunized 86 percent of its population aged 12 and above, with approximately 75 percent of those who are eligible receiving a booster.
However, 2 million people out of Italy’s 60 million people are presently positive, putting a strain on crucial services. Because so many people are positive or under quarantine, school districts have complained that they don’t have enough instructors to reopen.
Both Sicily and Campania, which includes Naples, defied the government on Monday by keeping their schools closed. However, after a parent filed a legal challenge to the shutdown, Campania’s schools were forced to resume on Tuesday.
Draghi stated that he wished to reverse the previous government’s decision to close schools during the first year of the epidemic, describing schools as “essential to democracy.”
“We want to be careful, extremely cautious,” Draghi added, “but also to reduce the economic and social repercussions, particularly on children, who have suffered the most.”
“In the evening, they go to pizzerias,” the prime remarked, “and they play sports all afternoon.” “It makes no sense to close schools but not the rest of society,” says the author.
According to Education Minister Patrizio Bianchi, all Italian teachers are supposed to be vaccinated, and nearly all of them are.