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How long will Italy keep the Covid green pass requirement in place?

Italy's green pass is already required for accessing venues including museums.
Italy's green pass is already required for access to many venues in Italy, and will be extended to all workplaces from Friday, October 15th. Photo: Andreas SOLARO/AFP
As France discusses when and how its health pass rules could be eased, Italy is preparing a major expansion of its requirements from Friday. How long is the Italian system likely to last?

The EU-wide health pass was first introduced on July 1st this year to facilitate quarantine-free travel, and several countries including Italy and France have since extended their versions of the pass to domestic use, for example at leisure venues and on some forms of public transport.

Italy has now taken the requirements a step further than its neighbours, making its Covid health pass a requirement for all employees as well as customers at all public or private sector workplaces under rules coming in from Friday, October 15th.

READ ALSO: Italy’s vaccination campaign slows as ‘green pass effect’ fails to materialise

There have been protests across the country against the expansion, with some of the estimated 10,000 people attending an anti-vaccination and anti-green pass protest in Rome on Saturday saying the requirement will prevent them from going to work or could impact their businesses.

An estimated 4-5 million people of working age remain unvaccinated in Italy, according to government figures, and unless they’ve recently recovered from Covid their only other way of accessing the ‘green pass’ is via testing every 2-3 days at their own expense.

Protestors demonstrate against the green pass system in Rome. Photo: Andreas SOLARO/AFP

But the Italian government insists the measure is necessary in order to keep the infection rate down and boost vaccination coverage in the country, particularly as the uptake rate has slowed dramatically in recent weeks.

While Italy is toughening its green pass requirements, there’s talk of potentially easing the pass sanitaire (health pass) rules in.France – which has a higher rate of the population fully immunised (nearly 90 percent, compared to Italy’s 80 percent).

The French government has said this could happen as soon as November 15th, when the country’s current rules expire.

In Italy however,  the system is set to stay in place for at least a little longer than that.

The decree passed in September on the expansion of the green pass requirement to workplaces specifies that the rule is in force “from October 15, 2021 and until December 31, 2021, at the termination of the state of emergency”.

OPINION: Italy’s Covid health pass is a necessary step – but what’s next?

While it’s not impossible that the government could revoke measures earlier, this hasn’t happened with any of Italy’s other coronavirus-related restrictions so far.

Ministers have indicated that the system could be reviewed, at the earliest, by the beginning of next year.

Health Undersecretary Andrea Costa said in an interview on Rainews24 on Monday: “It’s reasonable to think that in the new year there may be a revision of the restrictions currently in place in our country, including the green pass.”

He stopped short of saying the system would be scrapped, but said it “may be reviewed and its application reduced”.

“We will not live with the green pass forever, it is temporary,” another junior health minister, Pierpaolo Sileri, told Italy’s Radio 24 last week.

He added that the length of time the system will stay in place “all depends on the circulation of the virus.”

“When you go from a pandemic to an endemic state, with minimal virus circulation, then the green pass will no longer be needed,” he said.

“I believe that 2022 will be the year of the turning point.”

Over 80 percent of the Italian population is now fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Photo: Marco BERTORELLO/AFP

However, it’s not yet known if Italy’s state of emergency – the set of rules which allows coronavirus containment measures to be introduced by government decree – will be extended beyond December 31st.

If the state of emergency is extended again beyond December 31st, it could also lead to an extension of the green pass obligation for all workers.

At the moment it’s not clear what the government plans to do, with any future changes or extensions of current rules or the state of emergency to depend on the development of the health situation throughout autumn and into winter.

EXPLAINED: How Italy will enforce the new ‘green pass’ rules in all workplaces

Sileri indicated that the green pass rules would be reviewed at around the same time as the state of emergency “if the data continue to be positive, if the numbers of hospitalised patients continue to fall, if the number of vaccinated continue to rise.”

Ministers and health experts have credited the green pass system with keeping Italy’s coronavirus infection and hospitalisation rates relatively low and stable since the system was expanded to domestic use in early August, and preventing the need for renewed business closures and travel restrictions like those seen in 2020 and early 2021.

Italy’s health ministry on Tuesday reported 2,494 new infections and 49 Covid deaths nationwide over the previous 24 hours.

Italy also had a rate of 77 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over the past 14 days, according to ECDC data.

The same rate in France was 106 and in Germany 131.


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