Mirren gets embroiled in Italian politics

Oscar-winning actor Helen Mirren has become embroiled in Italian politics by backing the election campaign of a candidate to be the next president of the region of Puglia.

Mirren gets embroiled in Italian politics
Actress Helen Mirren is backing Senator Dario Stefano for president of Puglia. Photo of Helen Mirren: Shutterstock

Mirren, 69, and her American director husband Taylor Hackford, 69, have recorded a video message of support for Senator Dario Stefano, who will fight for the nomination of an alliance of centre-left parties in a primary scheduled for November 30th.

Expressing their support and admiration for Stefano, the couple, who have a holiday home in Puglia, said he had done "extraordinary work for agriculture and the environment," Italian news agency Ansa reported.

Stefano, 51, is a member of the Left Ecology Freedom party but is considered a centrist in his politics. He sits on the regional board of the Italian employers' organisation Confindustria.

Mirren, who flirted with the extreme left fringe of British politics in her youth, told an interviewer last year that she had always been a "pretend" leftie.

"I was a pretend left-winger because it was more interesting than being a right-winger," she told Time Out magazine.

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Italy eases Covid measures ahead of new government

Italy's outgoing government is easing measures against coronavirus from Saturday despite an increase in cases, weeks before handing over to a far-right administration that has criticised the tough restrictions.

Italy eases Covid measures ahead of new government

Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government said it would not renew regulations requiring FFP2 face masks to be worn on public transport – these expired on Friday.

However, it has extended for another month the requirement to wear face masks in hospitals and other healthcare settings, as well as residential facilities for the elderly.

READ ALSO:  Why are so many Italians still wearing face masks in shops?

By the time that rule expires on October 31, a new government led by far-right leader Giorgia Meloni is expected to be in place — with a very different attitude to Covid-19 restrictions than Draghi’s.

Italy was the first European country to face the full force of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, and has had some of the toughest restrictions.

Last winter, it required certain categories of workers to be vaccinated and demanded proof of a negative test, recent recovery from the virus or vaccination — the so-called Green pass — to enter public places.

READ ALSO: What is Italy’s Covid vaccination plan this autumn?

The pass was strongly criticised by Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which swept to a historic victory in elections on Sunday.

“We are against this certificate, full stop,” the party’s head of health policy, Marcello Gemmato, La Repubblica newspaper on Friday.

He said it gave “false security” because even after vaccination, people could get and spread coronavirus.

Gemmato said vaccines should be targeted at older people and those with health problems, but not be obligatory, adding that the requirement for healthcare workers to be vaccinated would not be renewed when it expires at
the end of the year.

READ ALSO: Italy gives green light to new dual-strain Covid vaccines

Cases of coronavirus are rising slightly again in Italy, likely due to the return of schools and universities.

More than 177,000 people with coronavirus have died in Italy since the start of the pandemic.