Italy to introduce Covid ‘pass’ for many activities

Prime minister calls on all Italians to be vaccinated 'right away'

FILE - In this Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. file photo, a woman wearing a sanitary mask walks past the Duomo gothic cathedral in Milan, Italy. The focal point of the coronavirus emergency in Europe, Italy, is also the region's weakest economy and is taking an almighty hit as foreigners stop visiting its cultural treasures or buying its prized artisanal products, from fashion to food to design. Europe’s third-largest economy has long been among the slowest growing in the region and is the one that is tallying the largest number of virus infections outside Asia. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)
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With daily Covid-19 cases rising sharply again, Italy will soon insist that people have passes showing their health status to gain access to gyms, museums, cinemas, inside restaurants and other venues.

Premier Mario Draghi’s government approved a decree on Thursday ordering use of the “green” passes, starting on August 6.

To be eligible for a pass, people must prove they have received at least one vaccine dose in the past nine months, recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months or tested negative in the previous 48 hours.

The passes will be needed to dine at tables inside restaurants or cafes, to attend sports events, town fairs and conferences, and to enter casinos, bingo parlours and pools, among other activities, officials say.

The documentation is needed to “to keep economic activity open″ and will allow people to enjoy entertainment ”with the assurance they won’t be next to contagious people", Mr Draghi said.

“The Italian economy is going well," he said. "It’s reviving and Italy is growing at a rhythm superior to that of other EU nations."

About 40 million people in Italy have already downloaded a green pass, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said.

Mr Speranza said the certification was already required to attend wedding receptions and visit residents of care homes.

More than half of people in Italy older than 12 and thus eligible for Covid-19 vaccines have received two doses, and several million more have received a first dose.

But fuelled in part by huge street celebrations after Italy’s wins in the recent European football championships this month, new daily cases have climbed again.

Health experts say the Delta variant of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading in much of Italy, but thanks to vaccination, “pressure on hospitals is strongly diminished", Mr Draghi said.

While Italy was reporting nearly 400 virus-related deaths a day four months ago, the number has been far lower lately, with fewer than a dozen deaths recorded on some recent days.

“The vaccine campaign permitted the economy to revive,″ Mr Draghi said. ”The first thing I have to say is to invite all Italians to get vaccinated and to do it right away.”

Updated: July 22, 2021, 9:30 PM