‘No vaccines mean a new lockdown’: Italian PM slams anti-vax comments as he unveils plan to avoid new restrictions

‘No vaccines mean a new lockdown’: Italian PM slams anti-vax comments as he unveils plan to avoid new restrictions
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi giving a televised press conference on July 22nd, 2021. Roberto Monaldo/POOL/AFP
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday night took a firm line against those who encourage others not to get vaccinated against Covid-19, saying: “An invitation not to get vaccinated is an invitation to die.”

Draghi’s comments came at a press conference on Thursday night, as he and Health Minister Roberto Speranza outlined plans for expanding the use of the ‘green pass’ within Italy.

From August 6th, people in Italy will need the pass to enter gyms, swimming pools, museums, cinemas, theatres, sports stadiums and other public venues, including indoor seating areas at bars and restaurants under the new rules.

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

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

Draghi, formerly head of the European Central Bank, stressed that the health pass requirement was also 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, adding that Italy’s economy is recovering faster than expected, and is even outpacing some of its European neighbours.

“An invitation not to get vaccinated is an invitation to die, or to let others die,” Draghi said.

He urged people to get vaccinated as soon as possible, saying: “No vaccines mean a new lockdown”.

READ ALSO: Most people in Italy support extended Covid ‘green pass’ plan, polls find

Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

Draghi’s comment was an apparent swipe at rightwing populist League party leader Matteo Salvini, who has expressed the opinion that if you’re under 40, getting vaccinated is “not necessary”.

His comments have been strongly criticised by Italian medical experts and Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who responded by saying that: “In the debate on vaccines, ambiguity on the part of any political force is not acceptable.”

“Our scientists strongly recommend the vaccine even under the age of 40,” Speranza stressed.

The World Health Organization states that “Covid-19 vaccines are safe for most people 18 years and older, including those with pre-existing conditions of any kind.”

READ ALSO: Italian PM Draghi changes Covid vaccines for second dose

Vaccination appointment bookings have been open to everyone aged over 12 in Italy since early June.

More than half of the Italian population aged over 12 is now fully vaccinated, and almost two-thirds have had a first jab, Draghi said.

The decision to expand the use of the green pass came after the number of new coronavirus cases detected daily in Italy more than doubled within a week. The country registered 5,057 new infections on Thursday.

EXPLAINED: What people vaccinated in Italy need to do to get the Covid ‘green pass’ travel certificate

Around 2,000 people held a protest on Thursday night in the northern city of Turin after Draghi’s announcement, with around 50 more demonstrations against the vaccine pass requirement planned for Friday and Saturday.

Several Italian regions meanwhile reported that Draghi’s announcement, or the “Draghi effect”, had had an immediate impact on vaccination bookings.

Lombardy and Lazio recorded the steepest increase in bookings, according to media reports.

Vice-President of the Lombardy Region Letizia Moratti wrote on Twitter on Friday that “participation in the vaccination campaign is growing, yesterday about 49,000 citizens signed up. To meet these new requests, an additional 100,000 new appointments will be made available for first doses from today until the end of August ”

 Similar measures announced in France by President Emmanuel Macron last week sparked protests, but also dramatically increased the number of vaccination bookings


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.