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COVID-19 RULES

Italy relaunches ‘green pass’ app to ward off fake Covid-19 passports

Italian authorities have reissued the digital health pass with advice on how to spot replicas, as fake versions are sold online.

Italy relaunches 'green pass' app to ward off fake Covid-19 passports
(Photo by Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP)

Following Italy’s announcement to expand its Covid-19 health pass to venues such as restaurants, bars, gyms and cinemas, there has been a surge in vaccination bookings.

But as it’s due to come into force in just under two weeks, from August 6th, there have been reports of other tactics to get the pass without meeting the official requirements of getting vaccinated, tested or showing a certificate of recovery from the virus.

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

In response to fake green passes being sold online, the government tweeted advice with step-by-step photo instructions.

“Green certificate: how to easily recognise the authentic one,” the tweet read.

The authorised app is called ‘VerificaC19‘, which is free to download, and works by scanning the QR code of the green pass.

This provides personal information of the holder and proof that they meet the health criteria to access many venues and cultural sites in Italy.

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

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

But reports in Italian media have revealed that fake ones are being sold on social networks for between €100 and €200, which can be obtained by only presenting an ID document and a health card (tessera sanitaria).

These fakes bypass the requirements stipulated by the Italian government and those found falsifying the Covid health pass – in either digital or paper format – will face penalties, according to Italian media reports.

One group has been found selling such counterfeit green passes on social media network, Telegram, for around €100, reported newspaper Il Messaggero.

Potential buyers are promised an activated green pass within 48-72 hours without needing to be vaccinated, tested or showing proof of having recovered from Covid-19.

The Telegram group has reportedly gathered more than 14,000 members and, according to the administrators, 1,200 fake Covid health passports have already been sold throughout Italy.

A price list and different payment methods are offered, with the cost rising to €120 for a paper version. Family packages are noted to offer people four or six green passes at a time, at a cost of between €300 to €450.

READ ALSO:

The real VerificaC19 app, which is free to download, shows the name, surname and date of birth of the holder of the green pass.

Photo: Palazzo Chigi/Twitter

It works by download from the Apple or Google app stores and will scan your green pass QR code, in either paper or digital form.

Then the green pass shows it’s valid with a green tick, displaying your personal details underneath.

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

The green pass will be required for anyone aged 12 and over and, at the moment, Italy’s digital health certificate is only available to people who were vaccinated, tested or recovered in Italy.

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COVID-19 RULES

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

The health ministry is reviewing its quarantine requirements as the country's Covid-19 health situation improved again this week, according to Italian media reports.

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

Italy has taken a more cautious approach to Covid in recent months than many of its European neighbours, keeping strict isolation rules in place for anyone who tests positive for the virus.

But this could be set to change in the coming days, according to media reports, as one of Italy’s deputy health ministers said the government is about to cut the isolation period for asymptomatic cases.

“Certainly in the next few days there will be a reduction in isolation for those who are positive but have no symptoms,” Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa said in a TV interview on the political talk show Agorà on Tuesday.

“We have to manage to live with the virus,” he said.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reported that the compulsory isolation period could be reduced to 48 hours for those who test positive but remain asymptomatic – provided they subsequently test negative after the day two mark.

Under Italy’s current rules, vaccinated people who test positive must stay in isolation for at least seven days, and unvaccinated people for ten days – regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

At the end of the isolation period, the patient has to take another test to exit quarantine. Those who test negative are free to leave; those who remain positive must stay in isolation until they get a negative test result, up to a maximum of 21 days in total (at which point it doesn’t matter what the test result says).

Health ministry sources indicated the new rules would cut the maximum quarantine period to 15 or even 10 days for people who continue to test positive after the initial isolation period is up, La Stampa said.

The government is believed to be reviewing the rules as the latest official data showed Covid infection and hospitalisation rates were slowing again this week, as the current wave of contagions appeared to have peaked in mid-July.

However, the national Rt number (which shows the rate of transmission) remained above the epidemic threshold, and the number of fatalities continued to rise.

The proposed changes still aren’t lenient enough for some parties. Regional authorities have been pushing for an end to quarantine altogether, even for people who are actively positive – an idea Costa appears sympathetic to.

“The next step I think is to consider the idea of even eliminating the quarantine, perhaps by wearing a mask and therefore being able to go to work,” he told reporters.

“We must review the criteria for isolation, to avoid blocking the country again”.

At least one health expert, however, was unenthusiastic about the proposal.

Dr Nino Cartabellotta, head of Italy’s evidence-based medicine group Gimbe, tweeted on Tuesday: “There are currently no epidemiological or public health reasons to abolish the isolation of Covid-19 positives”

Massimo Andreoni, professor of Infectious Diseases at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Tor Vergata University of Rome, was more ambivalent about the prospect.

The isolation requirement for asymptomatic cases should be “revised somewhat in the light of the epidemiological data”, he told reporters, but urged “a minimum of precaution, because the less the virus circulates and the fewer severe cases there are, the fewer new variants arise”.

When the question was last raised at the end of June, Health Minister Roberto Speranza was firmly against the idea of lifting quarantine requirements for people who were Covid positive.

“At the moment such a thing is not in question,” he told newspaper La Repubblica at the time. “Anyone who is infected must stay at home.”

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