A new decree set to be approved by the Italian government on Thursday will bring in changes to the way Italy’s green pass scheme works, according to Italian media reports, with a proposal to cut the validity of the ‘green pass’ health certificate expected to be approved at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
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.
It is currently a requirement at many leisure and cultural venues such as cinemas and indoor restaurants, as well as at all workplaces and on some forms of public transport.
Ministers are now debating further changes that would create a so-called “super green pass”, which could only be issued to those who are vaccinated or recovered, with passes issued based on testing in future only valid for entry to workplaces.
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 pushing for any further restrictions to apply only to the unvaccinated.
The national government is set to consider the regions’ proposals at a meeting on Wednesday before making a final decision on upcoming changs at a cabinet meeting later in the evening.
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
While nothing has yet been confirmed, newspaper La Repubblica writes on Wednesday that the government is considering placing restrictions on entry to certain venues without proof of vaccination in every part of the country over the Christmas holidays, including in low risk ‘white’ zones.
However, so far sources within the health ministry have indicated only that the government is considering placing further restrictions on the unvaccinated in any region declared a higher-risk ‘orange’ zone.
“Closures and restrictions must not be paid for by the vaccinated,” said Health Undersecretary Andrea Costa on Sunday, 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.”
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 also expected to be approved under the new decree.
Details of the new decree are expected to come by Thursday, and will come into force in early December though no date has yet been officially confirmed. La Repubblica gave December 6th as a likely start date.
Italy is relying heavily on vaccinations, including boosters, and the green pass system to keep the new wave of contagions under control as numbers surge across much of Europe.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said this week that Italy would allow the administration of booster doses five months after the completion of the initial vaccination cycle.
The Italain government now aims to have to have 90 percent of the population over 12 years old vaccinated as soon as possible, and has indicated that boosters will be made available to the general population in early 2022.
The current figure as of Wednesday stands at 84.1 percent, according to the latest government data.