Italy set to announce expanded ‘green pass’ scheme this week

Italy set to announce expanded 'green pass' scheme this week
The EU Digital Covid Health Certificate is currently used for quarantine-free travel but several countries are now expanding its use. Photo: Pau BARRENA/AFP
The Italian government is expected to announce that Covid-19 ‘green pass’ will soon be required in order to access long-distance trains, indoor restaurants and other venues.

Italy may require people to show proof of full vaccination, testing or recovery in order to enter more venues and potentially even to visit restaurants and gyms as early as next week under a planned expansion of the use of its certificazione verde or ‘green certificate’.

Ministers are expected to finalise a new decree setting out the details of its changes on Tuesday after the plan got the green light from the government’s panel of scientific experts, newspaper Corriere della Sera reports

No details of the changes have yet been confirmed, however. An official announcement is expected by Wednesday.

Italy’s government has been looking at ways to expand the use of the health pass after France last week announced a similar extension to its version of the scheme in order to slow rising infection rates and to encourage vaccinations.

Italy’s own green pass has been in use since June 17th, but at present it is only needed in order to access care homes or large events like concerts, sports matches and wedding receptions.

When will the rules change, and who does this apply to?

While nothing has yet been officially confirmed, reports suggest the timing of the new decree means changes could come into effect as soon as next Monday, July 26th.

At the moment Italy’s digital health certificate is available to people who were vaccinated, tested or recovered in Italy.

EXPLAINED: What people vaccinated in Italy need to do to get the Covid ‘green pass’ travel certificate

Photo: Denis LOVROVIC/AFP

People from EU and Schengen zone countries, as well as the US, Canada and Japan, can also enter Italy and access venues under ‘green pass’ terms but need to show equivalent health documents issued in their own country.

It appears likely that these rules will remain the same for visitors under the expanded scheme, though nothing has yet been officially confirmed.

Why is this happening now?

The CTS has pointed out that the plan could allow the government to keep all Italian regions in the low-risk ‘white’ zone and avoid bringing back any health restrictions during the peak summer holiday season, despite rising case numbers.

The government is aiming to keep restrictions low and businesses open until at least the Ferragosto holiday in mid-August, according to media reports.

Last year the country abruptly tightened restrictions following the mid-August holiday amid concern about a sharp rise in new cases linked to travel and partying holidaymakers.

However it’s not clear how much longer regions will remain ‘white’, with infection rates rising and the government set to change the way it decides on the zone classifications in order to keep businesses open longer.

Currently, regions automatically move from the white to the yellow zone if they record more than 50 infections per 100 thousand inhabitants in a seven-day period for three weeks in a row.

Analysis: How much longer will all of Italy remain a Covid-19 ‘white zone’?

With at least four regions expected to exceed that threshold by next week, regional authorities have asked the health ministry to change the parameters.

If regions turn ‘yellow’, renewed restrictions would include restrictions on indoor dining at restaurants and a return of the requirement to wear masks outdoors in all public places,

Health Minister Roberto Speranza confirmed that, under a revision of the zone system, hospitalisation and intensive care occupancy rates will become more important factors in deciding whether to impose new restrictions.

“The number of infected people is rising, especially among children, but in most cases there is no need for hospitalisation and for this reason we have chosen to leave businesses open, favouring those who decide to inoculate themselves in order to prevent the circulation of the virus,” Speranza told reporters on Sunday.

However, the plan to expand the green pass has faced criticism from some experts who point out that many people are still facing long waits for vaccination appointments, while free testing is not available in every region or city.

Many people who have been vaccinated are also reporting having trouble accessing the digital green pass due to missing access codes and other technical problems.

Meanwhile there are questions about how the scheme could be enforced in practice, as commentators argue that only the police, and not business owners, would have the right to check health passes.

Find further details about italy’s green certificate on the official website (currently only available in Italian).

For more information about the current coronavirus situation and health measures in Italy please see the Health Ministry’s website (in English).