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COVID-19 GREEN PASS

EXPLAINED: How Italy has tightened the ’green pass’ rules in September

Italy’s coronavirus 'green pass' health certificate is now obligatory for school staff and for passengers on long-distance public transport, including trains, domestic flights and ferries.

EXPLAINED: How Italy has tightened the ’green pass’ rules in September
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The changes came in on September 1st under the Italian government’s latest expansion of the certificazione verde or ‘green pass’ scheme.

Proof of vaccination, testing or recovery has already been required since August 6th in order to enter many cultural and leisure venues across Italy, including museums, theatres, gyms, and indoor seating areas in restaurants.

Here’s a look at the new requirements and what you’ll need to do to meet them, whether you live in Italy or are just visiting.

Public transport

The pass will now be required when boarding domestic flights and ferries as well as international services. It will not be a requirement on city buses, trams or other forms of local public transport.

All passengers on high-speed train services and on Intercity services will also need to show a ‘green pass’. The pass will be verified on board the train along with tickets, national rail operator Trenitalia has stated. 

READ ALSO: Q&A: Your questions answered about Italy’s Covid health pass

Passengers who can’t show a valid green pass will be asked to move to an area reserved for passengers without a green pass and will then have to get off at the next stop, according to Trenitalia.

The Strait of Messina ferry route, which connects Sicily with mainland Italy, is considered a local public transport route and is exempted from the requirement, according to the Italian news site Avvenire.

Schools

Under the new decree law, school and university staff will need to show the pass to enter the premises in the new school year, as will university students.

For schools, the extension is a key part of the government’s strategy to ensure that pupils can learn in person, after constantly changing Covid restrictions kept them in and out of classrooms for much of the past 18 months.

The government is also considering a further expansion which would make the pass mandatory for employees at workplaces deemed essential, including public offices and supermarkets.

What is the Italian ‘green pass’ and who needs it?

The Italian Covid-19 health certificate proves bearers have either been vaccinated with at least one dose, have recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months, or have tested negative in the previous 48 hours.

You can download the pass containing a QR code to their phone, or print it out if they prefer to carry a paper copy. If you were vaccinated or tested in Italy, find out more about getting your pass here.

Children under 12 are exempt from the ‘green pass’ requirement. The rules apply to everyone over that age, including tourists and non-resident visitors.

However you may not need the Italian version of the health pass, depending on which country you’re visiting from.

Italy recognises all equivalent health passes from other EU countries and proof of immunisation issued from any of these five non-EU countries, including on paper.

READ ALSO: Can tourists and visitors use Italy’s Covid ‘green pass’ to access museums, restaurants and trains?

That means visitors just need to carry the official proof of vaccination issued by your home country, such as a CDC-approved vaccination card from the US, a provincial immunisation card from Canada or an NHS vaccination certificate from the UK.

If you do not have a pass from one of these countries and plan on using public transport or going to a venue or event in Italy that requires a green pass, you will need to get tested in Italy (or elsewhere in the EU) in order to claim a certificate that remains valid for 48 hours.

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COVID-19 GREEN PASS

Italian government begins talks on Covid ‘super green pass’

Italy is set to tighten the rules on its health certificate scheme from December as Covid-19 contagion and hospitalisation rates continue to rise.

Employees in Italy must show Covid health passes to access workplaces.
Employees in Italy must show Covid health passes to access workplaces - but are the rules about to get stricter? Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Note: This article is no longer being updated. Please find the latest news here.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will hold a meeting with regional leaders on Monday evening, beginning several days of talks on a new government decree which is expected to be announced by Friday, reports national broadcaster Rai.

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 increasingly pushing for new measures, mainly in the form of further restrictions on the unvaccinated under a so-called “super green pass” scheme.

KEY POINTS: Italy’s new plans to contain the Covid fourth wave

Italy began rolling out its health certificate or ‘green pass’ for domestic use in August, initially making it a requirement at many leisure and cultural venues such as cinemas and indoor restaurants, before extending its use to workplaces and some forms of public transport. 

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.

Instead, the proposed ‘super green pass’ would only be issued to those who are vaccinated or recovered, with passes issued based on testing in future only valid for entry to workplaces.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

While no concrete decisions have yet been made, sources within the health ministry have indicated that it is considering the measure for any region declared a higher-risk ‘orange’ zone.

“Closures and restrictions must not be paid for by the vaccinated,” said Health Undersecretary Andrea Costa, 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.”

“It is clear that we must bring in new initiatives,” he said in an interview with Sky TG24 on Sunday.

EXPLAINED: Will Italy bring in a Covid lockdown for the unvaccinated?

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 already foreseen and I think it will be approved this week.”

Health Minister Roberto Speranza put forward proposals last week to make third doses obligatory for the healthcare staff already subject to a vaccine requirement, and also to cut the validity of Italy’s Covid-19 health certificate – the so-called green pass – from 12 to nine months for people who are vaccinated, including with a third dose.

READ ALSO: Italy to start Covid boosters for over-40s on Monday as infection rate rises

The changes have not yet been formally approved, but are expected to come in from December 1st under the planned new decree set to be signed into law by the end of the week.

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.

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