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COVID-19 GREEN PASS

When will Italy scrap its Covid ‘super green pass’ requirement?

As Italy looks at ending some Covid-19 restrictions, what are the plans for the 'super green pass' health certificate now required by most venues and services in the country?

When will Italy scrap its Covid 'super green pass' requirement?
A waiter checks a customer's Covid-19 health pass in a bar. Italy is currently debating the end of some pandemic restrictions, but it’s unclear how long the health pass system will last. Photo: Ander GILLENEA / AFP

This article was updated on March 9th.

As many countries across Europe have recently announced the end of Covid-19 health measures, including mask mandates and the obligation to show proof of vaccination, Italy’s government too has promised to publish a roadmap for easing its own rules.

But over a month since Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on February 7th that a timeline for relaxing certain measures would soon be announced, very little has been confirmed regarding plans for changes to the requirement to show proof of vaccination in Italy.

Since then, Draghi has confirmed that Italy’s Covid state of emergency will end on March 31st, and he said there would be a “gradual” end to the country’s health pass requirement from April 1st. Making this announcement on February 23rd, he indicated that a detailed plan would be published in the next few days.

But so far, further details of the plan are yet to materialise.

READ ALSO: Italian regions push to scrap Covid rules as official timeline delayed

Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa echoed Draghi’s words on Wednesday, telling Rai radio that the government would start easing the green pass rules from April 1st and promising that “a schedule will be set in the next few days”.

Italy currently operates a two-tiered green pass health certificate system, meaning proof of vaccination or recovery is currently needed for access to everything from hotels and restaurants to  public transport and many workplaces in Italy. 

Proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test result is required in order to enter most shops.

This means that even though unvaccinated visitors can enter the country – Italy has allowed people from both EU and non-EU countries to enter with only a negative test result since March 1st – they would face tight restrictions once in the country and find themselves unable to check in to hotel, take a bus, or visit a museum without proof of vaccination (or recovery from Covid-19).

Italy’s other deputy health minister, Pierpaolo Sileri, said last week that he is “in favour of reshaping the ‘super green pass’, gradually, until its abolition not from April 1st but in April,” which is in line with what Draghi indicated last month.

“I would carefully evaluate an abolition in workplaces before elsewhere,” Sileri added.

READ ALSO: Where you now need to show a Covid green pass in Italy

He said the priority should be “restoring normal capacity at the stadium or in the office” and suggested ending the requirement to wear masks indoors “by the middle of April”.

Italian media reports have suggested that the requirement may be gradually removed from certain venues and businesses over a number of weeks from April onwards.

Newspaper Corriere della Sera writes that the government will first remove the green pass obligation for bars and restaurants, and then outdoor sports venues.

Gyms, cinemas, theatres and public transport however are likely to be the last to see the end of the green pass obligation.

However it’s not clear what these reports are based on, as no such plan has been announced by the government.

READ ALSO: How Italy has updated its Covid health pass rules for visitors

The system looks unlikely to be removed altogether, as Italy’s health experts have taken a cautious tone when asked about the idea.

Walter Ricciardi, an advisor to Health Minister Roberto Speranza, insisted that the green pass system should stay in place for the rest of this year.

“It is still needed,” Ricciardi said in an interview with Repubblica on Monday. “For all of 2022 the [vaccination] obligation and the green pass must be maintained. We are still in a year of transition.”

He added that by October “we should see if the virus will recur and with what vehemence. It is essential to have the tools that allow us to fight it in the most effective way.”

He urged caution when talking about ending restrictions, saying: “it would be the third time we make the same mistake, the third year in which we think that it’s all over and then we find ourselves with the curve going up.”

Find more information about Covid-19 health measures on the Italian health ministry’s website (available in English).

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COVID-19 RULES

‘Not offensive’: Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani defended the policy of testing all arrivals from China for Covid-19 after Beijing said the policy "lacks scientific basis".

'Not offensive': Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

“It seems perfectly normal to me,” Tajani told Italian state broadcaster Rai on Tuesday. “Having a test is a way to protect people’s health. There is nothing offensive about it.”

“Lots of Chinese and Italians coming from China do it (anyway),” he claimed.

READ ALSO: Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

Italy was the first European country to make testing on arrival a requirement for passengers arriving on flights from China last week, after a surge in the infection rate there.

Italian Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said on Wednesday that the screening requirement was “essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population”.

READ ALSO: Italy pushes for EU-wide China Covid measures as tests show no new variants

France and Spain have since introduced similar rules (as well as non-EU countries including the UK and USA) and there is now a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability to discuss coordinating measures.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said the screening policy would be “ineffective” if not done on a European level, as only people arriving on direct flights from China were being tested in Italy, not those with stopovers.

But the Chinese government on Tuesday hit out at countries introducing a policy of mandatory testing for people arriving from China.

“Some countries have taken entry restrictions targeting only Chinese travellers,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning was quoted as saying at a briefing by AFP.

“This lacks scientific basis and some practices are unacceptable”.

She said Beijing may “take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity”.

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