Italy targeted the unvaccinated with a host of new coronavirus restrictions Monday, with proof of vaccination or recovery from a recent infection required to enter public transport, cafes, hotels, gyms and other popular venues.
The new “super” health pass requirement, which eliminates the ability to show just a negative test to gain access to services, comes as many Italians returned to work and school after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and as Italy’s new COVID-19 infections are soaring past 100,000 per day.
The government has responded to the omicron-fueled wave of infections by passing new restrictions aimed at encouraging vaccine holdouts to get their jabs or be increasingly shut out of recreational and even essential activities, such as taking a bus or subway to work.
Italians have generally supported the restrictions, which in recent months have also included outdoor mask mandates and a standard health pass to get into workplaces. The new restriction were enforced Monday by police fanning out at train stations to check passengers’ vaccine status and make sure they were wearing the more protective Ffp2 face masks, which were now required on public transport.
“I’m happy that they are controlling everywhere,” said Carola, Pasqualotto, a member of the Imperi sport center where the front desk was checking members’ vaccination status. “I am in favor of mandatory vaccines for all.”
Premier Mario Draghi, though, has faced criticism for his government’s decision last week to mandate vaccinations for anyone 50 and older.
Critics say the fine for noncompliance, which starts at 100 euros ($113), is far too low to make defying the requirement hurt. But the fines rise significantly — to as high as 1,600 euros (nearly $1,800) —for those in that age group who enter their workplaces starting in mid-February if they still aren’t vaccinated.
Meeting with reporters on Monday, Draghi defended the vaccine obligation.
“The data tells us that those older than 50 run greater risks, and that intensive care units are occupied by two-thirds of those not vaccinated,″ the premier said.
Italy targets the unvaccinated with new virus restrictions Associated Press