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Unvaccinated Italians face new restrictions

December 6, 2021

Many areas of public life are now off-limits for Italians who have not had a COVID-19 shot. Rising infection rates have raised concerns ahead of the Christmas season.

People being vaccinated at the Niguarda hospital in Milan, Italy
Italy's vaccination rate is higher than many of its neighbors, at 85% of the eligible population aged 12 and olderImage: Matteo Bazzi/REUTERS

New restrictions for unvaccinated people came into force in Italy on Monday, excluding them from indoor restaurants, theaters and museums. This is to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and encourage people to get vaccinated.

The restrictions are to remain in place until January 15.

Italians scanning their "green pass"  at train company offices
The 'green pass' certificate is a QR code that can be scannedImage: Andrew Medichini/AP/picture alliance

How will the restrictions be enforced?

Police will now be able to check whether diners in restaurants or bars have a "strengthened green pass" that certifies whether they have been vaccinated or alternatively have recovered from the virus. Those who have tested negative for COVID-19 will now be excluded from these venues and events.

The "basic" green pass, which can be obtained following a negative COVID-19 test, still allows travelers to board long-distance trains. As of Monday, the basic green pass will also be required for subways, buses and local trains.

The "green pass" certificate is a digital or printable QR code that can be scanned using a smartphone app.

What is the current state of the pandemic in Italy?

COVID-19 infections have been on a gradual rise in the country for the past six weeks. This has raised concerns ahead of the Christmas holidays as Italians plan gatherings and travel to spend time with friends and family.

Learning from Italy

Italy's vaccination rate is higher than many of its neighbors. Around 85% of the eligible population over 12 has been vaccinated, which amounts to 77% of the total population.

People between the ages of 30 and 60 have proven reluctant to get vaccinated, and 3.5 million still haven't received their first dose. This is the group that is now being hardest hit by the virus, according to Silvio Brusaferro of Italy's National Health Institute.

Italy is not the first EU country to impose new coronavirus measures: in November Austria announced a vaccine mandate to be applied beginning in February, and Greece has announced a mandate for citizens over the age of 60 scheduled for the middle of January. Meanwhile here in Germany, the new government has announced plans to make vaccination mandatory in the coming months.

sdi/rt (AP, dpa)