Italy’s health ministry on Monday introduced new rules aimed at preventing passengers without a valid health certificate from disrupting and delaying long-distance train services, after reports of police having to remove people who refused to show a Covid-19 health certificate, called a ‘green pass’ in Italy.
In one recent case, a high-speed Italo train service on the Reggio Calabria-Milan line had to stop in Rome after a passenger failed to produce a valid document and refused to get off.
Instead of showing a green pass, which has been a requirement for travel on all interregional trains since September 1st, the woman instead showed a photo of the result of a home test kit, as well as a self-certification form.
“I won’t get off,” the passenger said when asked to produce a valid health document, newspaper Corriere della Sera reports.
Following a quarrel with the conductor, Italian police were alerted to the dispute and the train stopped in Rome where the argument continued, stopping the train from departing for almost half an hour
Officers explained that the picture printed on a sheet of paper did not prove that the test was hers. Nor did it prove when the swab was taken.
Green passes can be released based on the results of PCR or rapid antigen swab tests conducted at pharmacies or by other medical professionals, but not based on the results of a home test kit.
Police told the passenger the photo of her home test result couldn’t replace a green pass and asked her to get off the train, in line with Covid health pass regulations.
The rules state that passengers without a valid pass can be moved to another part of the train before being asked to get off at the next stop.
After eventually agreeing to disembark, the passenger was fined for breaching the green pass rules and was subsequently reported for interruption of a public service.
This crossed the line into criminal law, with the passenger now facing charges for causing a delay to the train, with penalties including a potential prison sentence of up to one year.
The passenger’s lawyers have lodged an appeal with the Regional Administrative Tribunal to challenge both the penalty and the law as a whole.
The passenger reportedly said she believes the green pass system is illegitimate “from a constitutional point of view” and in conflict with European regulations and treaties.
For the time being, the Administrative Court has closed the matter, stating that they cannot consider a case’s “constitutional compatibility”.
The health ministry changed the Covid green pass rules on public transport on Monday in a bid to slow the recent sharp rise in infection rate before Christmas.
To help prevent such delays in future, train staff should now verify passengers’ health passes before boarding and not after during ticket inspections, as has been the practice so far.
The checks will reportedly be carried out “where possible”, including at major train stations with ticket barriers such as Rome Termini and Florence Santa Maria Novella.
The rules apply to long-distance and interregional train passengers, but not to those taking local services.
As well as those who fail to show a green pass, new rules state that railway police and local health authorities can stop any train on which passengers are found to “present symptoms attributable to the coronavirus” and the train company will need to “sanitise the train before putting it back into operation”.
Italy’s green pass is a requirement at workplaces, indoor restaurants and leisure venues as well as on long-distance public transport.
Only those who are vaccinated, recovered, or have tested negative, either with a PCR test or a rapid (antigenic) swab test can access it.