Italy’s newest round of coronavirus health curbs, which are among the most restrictive in the European Union (EU), has come into effect, but were .
The lead-up to Monday’s start date for the country’s more restrictive “super green pass” rules was marked by a series of vocal protests against the measures in multiple cities and complaints on social media, reports Xinhua news agency.
To qualify for a “super green pass”, a resident must be fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from Covid-19.
Unlike the previous green pass, those with a negative Covid-19 test in the last 48 hours will not be eligible for the new “super green pass”. The green pass is now also required in hotels for the first time.
The new rules are set to remain in effect until at least January 15, 2022 and they could be extended further.
On the first day with the new rules in effect, there were few reports of issues. One television report said there were a few delays related to health checks on public transport in Milan and Rome. There were isolated incidents of people being turned away from indoor dining establishments for not having a valid health certificate.
The new rules give police the power to fine patrons or establishments for ignoring rules, but in Italy, sanctions are generally not applied immediately after rules go into effect to allow for a transition period.
“There were no real problems on the first day,” 29-year-old Rome-based coffee bar worker Alexa Agostini told Xinhua. “We asked to see customers’ green passes and they showed them. One customer didn’t have his and I told him I’d have to serve him outside, and that wasn’t a problem.”
Hernan Nucci, 34, co-owner of a pizzeria in Rome, said he was pleased to note how well accepted the new rules were.
“I think everyone is a little nervous about this new variant,” Nucci told Xinhua, referring to the new Omicron coronavirus variant. “I think they are willing to accept some limits if it makes everyone safer.”
Marcantonio Gemelli, a 41-year-old taxi driver, said he hoped the new rules would help convince some unvaccinated people to get the jabs.
“Nobody likes to get a shot but how long do we want to live with these restrictions?” Gemelli asked in an interview with Xinhua. “It makes sense. Protect yourself and your loved ones.”
The new rules were put into place after Italy’s coronavirus infection rate started to inch higher last month. Officials have said that restricting the movement of the unvaccinated combined with one of the EU’s highest vaccination rates will help limit the spread of the virus in Italy.
Till date, 84.76 per cent of Italy’s population over the age of 12 has been fully vaccinated.
But despite the relatively smooth sailing on the first day, not everyone was pleased.
Hotel and restaurant operator Massimo Offredi said the new rules were another blow to the Italian hospitality sector already reeling from nearly two years of pandemic-related restrictions.
“Most people are vaccinated. If the government doesn’t start thinking about the restaurant and bar owners, many restaurants won’t be here when things return to normal,” said the 60-year-old.