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Q&A: How does Italy’s new Covid ‘super green pass’ work?

The rules on using Italy's Covid-19 health pass changed on December 6th. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
The Italian government has brought in strict new 'super green pass' rules aimed at keeping the coronavirus infection rate under control this winter. Here's what you need to know.

Italy on Monday introduced new restrictions for those who are not vaccinated against or recovered from Covid-19 under so-called ‘super green pass’ rules.

The measures, which Prime Minister Mario Draghi says are needed to “preserve normality”, will be in place until at least January 15th, with the possibility that they will be extended further into 2022.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s Covid green pass rules change on Monday

The Italian government announced the details of the new restrictions on Sunday afternoon, just hours before the ‘super’ or rafforzato (reinforced) green pass rules came into effect.

As the government on Monday morning published full details of the new rules (find them here, in Italian) here’s the latest update with what you need to know.

What is Italy’s ‘super green pass’ and how have the rules changed?

Italy has been requiring a ‘green pass’ or health certificate within the country as well as for travel since August.

From Monday, the strengthened version of the green pass will only be available after vaccination or recovery, and no longer in case of a negative test result. It will be needed to attend sports events, concerts, theatres, indoor restaurants, and more.

The new rules mean the country’s previously existing health certificate or green pass will no longer allow access to leisure and cultural venues and some forms of long-distance public transport unless the bearer is vaccinated against or recovered from Covid-19.

“The reinforced green pass only applies to those who are either vaccinated or cured,” stated a government press release.

From December 6th, basic green passes issued based on negative test results will no longer be valid for entry to many cultural and leisure venues.

Where is the ‘super green pass’ required?

Those who are not vaccinated or recovered will now be unable to access many venues where the green pass was previously required. 

This applies to theatres, cinemas, concerts, indoor restaurants, and sporting events – regardless of which coloured zone they are in under Italy’s four-tiered system of risk assessment: 

For other venues, including museums, shopping centres and ski slopes, varying green pass requirements will only kick in if a region is declared a higher-risk ‘orange’ zone, and in some cases rules will also depend on whether or not it’s a weekday, weekend or public holiday. 

The government on Sunday issued further details of how the green pass would apply differently in different settings and under different tiers. See the full breakdown here.

The pass requirement will be applied to events, businesses and services that would “otherwise be subject to restrictions”, including closures, in any region declared a yellow or orange zone, the government stated.

The highest-level ‘red’ zone classification would mean closures.

What are you allowed to do without the ‘super green pass’?

Italy is still issuing passes based on a negative test result (from within the past 48 or 72 hours, depending on the type of test taken) but these will now only be valid for venues and services deemed essential, such as workplaces and public transport.

Under the new decree, the basic green pass requirement has been extended to hotels, regional and interregional trains, and local public transport, meaning a pass is required for access but this too can be based on a negative test result.

Photo: Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

The validity period of passes based on a negative test result has not changed.

The government clarified on Sunday that the ‘super green pass’ requirement would only kick in for some businesses and venues if a region is declared a higher-risk ‘orange’ zone under Italy’s tiered system of risk assessment.

For example, access to coffee bars and museums is only restricted to those with the reinforced green pass in regions subject to ‘orange’ zone restrictions. See further details here.

How do you get a ‘super green pass’?

For those who already have an Italian green pass due to being vaccinated against or recovered from Covid, the changes will be minimal.

The government hasn’t indicated that vaccinated or Covid-recovered green pass holders need to do anything to upgrade their pass – so it appears as though their certificates will automatically be considered a ‘super green pass’, and users can go on as before.

The Italian health ministry announced on Sunday that its verification app used to check passes has been updated to reflect the changes.

Those without such a health certificate will now need to get vaccinated to obtain the ‘super green pass’ if they want to avoid losing access to a range of venues and services across the country.

How long are passes now valid for?

The new decree has also cut the validity of green passes from to nine months for those who are vaccinated, amid indications that protection from the vaccine appears to diminish faster than previously thought.

Until now, a green pass received as a result of vaccination against or recovery from Covid was valid for 12 months.

This means that passes generated after the completion of the initial vaccination cycle (after the administration of the second dose, or after the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine) will now be valid for nine months, and new passes generated after a booster or third dose will then be valid for a further nine months.

While the new decree confirms that people will be allowed to get a booster shot five months after completion of the vaccination cycle (instead of six as was previously the case), this does not mean green passes will expire after five months.

Do these rules apply to all foreign visitors?

All previous health measures including green pass rules have applied to everyone in the country aged over 12 regardless of nationality or residency, and this continues to be the case with the new restrictions.

It is important to note however that the new decree only covers domestic rules and does not mention changes to restrictions on international travel. So you do not currently need a ‘super green pass’ at the border.

READ ALSO: How do Italy’s new Covid green pass rules affect tourists?

However, an announcement is expected on changes to the EU-wide health pass system amid the worsening health situation across the bloc.

As EU countries begin to impose new travel restrictions on each other, the European Commission says it recognises the need to tighten the rules of its Covid certificate. For the latest on how this system could change, see here.

Do the ‘super green pass’ rules apply to children?

Italy’s current green pass rules do not apply to under-12s and this will remain the case under the new decree.

Italy is currently recommending vaccinations for all those aged over 12 years old and has just approved the administration of vaccines for 5-11 year olds, though it’s not yet known when jabs for younger children will be made available.

There are no plans to extend the green pass requirement to under-12s.

However, this requirement presents a problem for people travelling to Italy with children aged between 12-15 from countries where vaccines are not available for this age group.

The Italian government has so far given no indication on how children over 12 years old visiting Italy can access the green pass or whether any exemptions will be made.

Visitors in this age group have so far been able to access the green pass via testing, but it is still not clear what they should do under the new ‘super green pass’ requirements.

Presently, for those travelling from the UK, for example, the British government advice reads, “Minors aged 12-17 (who are not fully vaccinated) will need to test every 48 hours to obtain a green pass in order to access local services and venues.”

This doesn’t fit with the upcoming super green pass requirements, and the UK government advice hasn’t yet been updated to reflect Italy’s new rules.

We will continue to update this article with new information as soon as it becomes available.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on individual cases. For further details about Italy’s current Covid-19 health measures please see the Italian Health Ministry’s website (available in English).

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