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EXPLAINED: When, where and why will you need a Covid health passport in Italy?

As Italy faces a Delta variant-driven fourth wave of Covid-19, people will soon be required to show a 'green pass' to visit many cultural or leisure venues. Here's when and where you will need the passport.

EXPLAINED: When, where and why will you need a Covid health passport in Italy?
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The Italian government announced on Thursday evening that the use of the country’s certificazione verde or ‘green certificate’ health pass scheme will be extended from Friday August 6th.

The certificazione verde or ‘green pass, as the health certificate is known in Italy, proves that the bearer has been fully vaccinated, has recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months, or has received a negative test result in the past 48 hours.

Where it’s required

From August 6th, many businesses, leisure venues and cultural sites in Italy will soon be required to ask their customers to show a health pass before they’re allowed to enter. 

The list includes museums, galleries, theatres, cinemas, sports stadiums, theme parks, indoor swimming pools, spas, and indoor seating areas at bars and restaurants. 

Failing to check the pass can earn both customers and venues a fine from €400 to €1,000, while businesses that repeatedly break the rules risk being forced to close for up to ten days. 

READ ALSO: Italy makes Covid ‘green pass’ mandatory for restaurants, gyms, cinemas and more 

Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

However, the green pass is not required for domestic travel on public transport, long-distance trains or flights within Italy.

Ministers had also discussed making the green pass mandatory for domestic flights and on long-distance trains, but this was not included in the decree, and will be discussed at a later date according to Italian media reports

The government’s announcement did not mention hotels, supermarkets or shopping centres.

Nightclubs are to remain closed completely, contrary to reopening plans suggested by government ministers in recent weeks.

The change takes effect from Friday, August 6th. 

Until then, Italy’s current green pass rules will continue to apply, with the certificate only required at Italy’s international borders, wedding receptions, certain large public events such as trade fairs or sports competitions, or when visiting someone in a care home.

Who needs to show it

The green pass is expected to be made a requirement for everyone in Italy over the age of 12.

Under current rules only children under two years old are exempt from the health pass requirement, but this is expected to change due to the fact that vaccinations are only open to over-12s so far in Italy. The government has not yet confirmed this, however.

At the moment Italy’s digital health certificate is only available to people who were vaccinated, tested or recovered in Italy. If that’s you, find out exactly how to claim it here.

If you got your shots, tests or treatment elsewhere, what you’ll need to do depends on the country.

People from EU and Schengen zone countries, as well as the US, Canada and Japan, can also enter Italy and access venues under ‘green pass’ terms but need to show equivalent health documents issued in their own country.

READ ALSO: What documents do Americans need for travel to Italy?

Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

At the moment, Italian authorities are allowing people from other countries to use equivalent health documents (such as the US CDC card) when crossing the border and in other cases where it is needed within the country.

It appears likely that these rules will remain the same for visitors under the expanded scheme, though the government has not yet confirmed this.

It’s not yet known when the rules may change for people arriving from or vaccinated in other countries, including the UK.

See here for further details of how the new rules may affect people travelling to Italy this summer.

The government also confirmed that the Italian green pass will continue to be made available to those who have only had one vaccine dose.

The government had been discussing whether or not to make the pass available in the case of vaccination only for those who are fully immunised – instead of 15 days after the first dose as is currently the case in Italy. Most other European countries currently only issue the pass after both doses.

Why the ‘green pass’ scheme is being expanded

Italy has been looking at ways to expand the use of the health pass after France last week announced a similar extension to its version of the scheme in order to slow rising infection rates and to encourage vaccinations.

The Italian government has said it hopes the expansion of the ‘green pass’ scheme will persuade more people to book their vaccinations after health ministry data showed a recent slowdown in the number of first jabs administered.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday night stressed that the health pass requirement was being introduced as an alternative to new restrictions and business closures as the number of new cases recorded in the country has spiked.

”The use of vaccine certificates is needed to keep the economy open,” Draghi said, urging people to get vaccinated.

“No vaccines mean a new lockdown”.

The government is hoping that the expansion of the green pass requirement, along with changes to the parameters of Italy’s risk zones, will be enough to keep all regions in the low-restriction ‘white’ zone until at least mid-August.

Find the latest updates in our green pass news section and further details on the official website (currently only available in Italian).

For more information about the current coronavirus situation and health measures in Italy please see the Health Ministry’s website (in English).

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Italian government begins talks on Covid ‘super green pass’

Italy is set to tighten the rules on its health certificate scheme from December as Covid-19 contagion and hospitalisation rates continue to rise.

Employees in Italy must show Covid health passes to access workplaces.
Employees in Italy must show Covid health passes to access workplaces - but are the rules about to get stricter? Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Note: This article is no longer being updated. Please find the latest news here.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will hold a meeting with regional leaders on Monday evening, beginning several days of talks on a new government decree which is expected to be announced by Friday, reports national broadcaster Rai.

As the health situation has worsened across Italy in recent weeks – particularly in the north-eastern regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto and the autonomous province of Bolzano – leaders of local governments are increasingly pushing for new measures, mainly in the form of further restrictions on the unvaccinated under a so-called “super green pass” scheme.

KEY POINTS: Italy’s new plans to contain the Covid fourth wave

Italy began rolling out its health certificate or ‘green pass’ for domestic use in August, initially making it a requirement at many leisure and cultural venues such as cinemas and indoor restaurants, before extending its use to workplaces and some forms of public transport. 

The certificate shows that the bearer has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has recovered from the disease within the last six months, or has tested negative in the last few days.

Instead, the proposed ‘super green pass’ would only be issued to those who are vaccinated or recovered, with passes issued based on testing in future only valid for entry to workplaces.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

While no concrete decisions have yet been made, sources within the health ministry have indicated that it is considering the measure for any region declared a higher-risk ‘orange’ zone.

“Closures and restrictions must not be paid for by the vaccinated,” said Health Undersecretary Andrea Costa, adding that the ‘super green pass’ plan would “guarantee the unvaccinated access to workplaces and basic needs, but certain activities such as going to a restaurant, cinema or theatre should be reserved for the vaccinated if the situation worsens.”

“It is clear that we must bring in new initiatives,” he said in an interview with Sky TG24 on Sunday.

EXPLAINED: Will Italy bring in a Covid lockdown for the unvaccinated?

At the moment all of Italy remains in the lowest-risk ‘white’ zone, with few health measures in place.

However several regions are now nearing the thresholds at which they would be moved into the ‘yellow’ zone next week, and – if the situation continues to worsen – then risk being placed under orange zone restrictions two weeks later.

Costa said a planned third dose obligation for health workers “is already foreseen and I think it will be approved this week.”

Health Minister Roberto Speranza put forward proposals last week to make third doses obligatory for the healthcare staff already subject to a vaccine requirement, and also to cut the validity of Italy’s Covid-19 health certificate – the so-called green pass – from 12 to nine months for people who are vaccinated, including with a third dose.

READ ALSO: Italy to start Covid boosters for over-40s on Monday as infection rate rises

The changes have not yet been formally approved, but are expected to come in from December 1st under the planned new decree set to be signed into law by the end of the week.

Other measures the government is reportedly considering include cutting the validity of green passes based on PCR test results from 72 to 48 hours, and those from the results of rapid testing will be reduced from 48 to 24 hours.

There have also been calls from health experts and regional leaders to stop issuing green passes based on rapid test results altogether, as these are less reliable than the results of a PCR test.