At the Vatican Museums, a number of tourists were turned away despite having pre-booked tickets after failing to provide proof of a Covid-19 vaccine, previous infection or a negative coronavirus test in the form of a health pass, as is now required under the new measures.
“We were looking forward to it, so we are kind of disappointed. But it is what it is,” said Tereza Poganyova, 20, on holiday with a friend from the Czech Republic.
However, she admitted having received an email reminding her of the new requirement, and most of the visitors lining up to see the Sistine Chapel on Friday morning were prepared.
Hugo Munoz, 48, from Texas, used his US vaccination card to gain entry and welcomed the new checks, even though they caused longer queues.
“I know there are mixed feelings… but we did it back at home and to us at least it gives us a little bit of a peace of mind that we probably are more protected,” he told AFP.
Italy has promised to accept equivalent documents from Canada, Israel, Japan, the UK and the US – though reports from The Local’s readers suggest that some venues in Italy have been rejecting certificates from these countries amid confusion over which non-EU documents are recognised.
The Pompeii archaeological park in southern Italy meanwhile said it would offer free Covid testing to visitors arriving without the green pass.
A partire dal 6 agosto 2021 i visitatori potranno accedere al Parco Archeologico di Pompei solo previa esibizione della certificazione verde Covid/Green Pass (vaccino o certificato di tampone antigenico con esito negativo) in ottemperanza al decreto legge n.105 del 23 luglio 2021 pic.twitter.com/G8hIin6xcp
— Pompeii Sites (@pompeii_sites) August 5, 2021
Tourists are not the only ones being caught short. Millions of Italy’s residents are still not vaccinated and therefore those who have not recently recovered from coronavirus can only get a green pass by taking a test.
And thousands of people who have been fully vaccinated have experienced technical problems meaning they have so far been unable to download the pass.
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There have been pockets of protests against the measure, most recently on Thursday night, when thousands of people gathered in Turin’s main plaza, Piazza Castello, in an event dubbed ‘No Fear Day’.
Most were without masks and some held signs saying “Freedom” and “State Discrimination”.
In restaurants in central Rome on Friday, not everyone was asking for a green pass for diners wanting to sit inside, despite the risk of stiff fines.
Many business owners have expressed concerns about how the pass will work in practice, particularly with tourists with tests or vaccination certificates in a different format than that recognised within the EU. And would it lead to discrimination?
“Will I end up having to put everyone who is vaccinated inside, with all the non-vaccinated outside?” asked one waiter who asked not to be named.
On Thursday night, the government also agreed to make the green pass obligatory for teachers as well as passengers on domestic flights, ferries and long-distance trains and buses from September 1st.
Ministers insist the measures are crucial to curbing rising coronavirus cases, while allowing businesses to stay open.
“I say to all Italians: vaccinate yourselves and respect the rules,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi told reporters Friday ahead of parliament’s summer break.
Italy has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, recording more than 128,000 deaths – the highest toll in the European Union.
The vaccination campaign has helped turn the tide in recent months, with more than 62 percent of the population over the age of 12 now fully jabbed.
However the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant is causing concern, with another 7,200 cases new reported on Thursday as Italy enters the fourth wave of contagion.
Colombian tourist Juan Carlos Ramirez Gomez, walking around Rome’s historic centre on Friday, said other nations should follow Italy’s lead and introduce the health pass.
“The decision should be imitated at a global level,” he said.