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COVID-19

‘Super green pass’: How is Italy enforcing the new Covid rules?

Italian police handed out almost 1,000 fines to people who failed to show the new Covid 'super green pass' document on the first day of new restrictions on Monday. But where and how are checks being carried out?

'Super green pass': How is Italy enforcing the new Covid rules?
Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Italy on Monday December 6th introduced new restrictions for those who are not vaccinated against or recovered from Covid-19 under so-called ‘super green pass’ rules.

Italy has since August required people to show a green pass which could also be obtained via a negative test result, and these ‘basic’ green passes will continue to be valid for access to workplaces, local public transport and venues deemed essential.

But access to many cultural and leisure venues, including nightclubs and sports facilities, is now restricted to those who can prove they are vaccinated or recovered under the new ‘super’ or reinforced green pass rules. Health passes which were issued based on recovery or vaccination will remain valid for entry to all venues.

More venues will fall under these restrictions in any regions declared higher-risk ‘orange’ zones under Italy’s tiered system of heath measures, though this does not currently apply to any part of the country.

MAP: The Italian regions at risk of becoming ‘yellow’ zones in December

The rule changes also mean hotels and local forms of public transport must now require a ‘basic’ green pass (which can be based on negative test results) for entry.

Business owners are required to ensure customers comply with the rules by checking green passes using the verification app – and if they’re found not to have done so, both staff and customers face fines and the business could be temporarily closed.

The health ministry on Sunday stated that it had updated its Verifica C-19 app, which is used to check the validity of green passes.

Holders of green passes (issued based on vaccination or proof of recovery) don’t need to do anything to obtain a ‘super’ green pass: their current passes will remain valid for entry where required if operators download and use the new version of the verification app.

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

But doubts remain as to how the rules can be enforced in some situations, particularly on public transport at peak times.

The Italian Transport Ministry is reportedly working on a new electronic ticketing system which would mean green passes were needed when purchasing tickets, but so far there’s no indication of when this may be launched.

A new ordinance published by the Interior Ministry on Monday stated that more police checks would be carried out on public transport and on businesses to ensure compliance with the new system.

Interior Minster Luciana Lamorgese insisted the checks on green pass compliance would be “rigorous”.

“I have read in some media that the Interior Ministry is taking a soft line,” she told reporters on Monday.

“It’s not true. Our line is one of rigor: public health must be guaranteed, the right to serenity when you go out.”

Some 937 fines in total were issued to people who were unable to show a green pass, according to news agency Ansa, and a further 2,000 fines were handed out on the same day to people not following the rules on wearing masks, following a total of 119.539 police checks.

Police shut down at least one bar in Rome for five days on Monday and fined the owner and members of staff, Ansa reports, as they did not have a basic version of the green pass certificate – which has been required in all workplaces in Italy since October 15th.

Currently masks are required in all indoor public places as well as in crowded outdoor areas in ‘white’ zones, and at all times in public, including outdoors, in ‘yellow’ zones as well as in the central areas of numerous Italian cities which have brought in stricter local rules.

Anyone who is unable to show a green pass or wear a mask when required risks fines of 400 euros or more, the new ordinance published by the Interior Ministry on Monday confirmed.

Anyone found at indoor restaurants or events without a the ‘super’ green pass can be removed from the venue and fined between 400 and 1,000 euros, the ordinance states.

The same fines apply to passengers on long-distance trains, domestic flights, local public transport, and customers at gyms, swimming pools, and hotels found to be without a green pass, and to the managers of businesses found not to have carried out checks 

After three fines on three different days a business can be shut down for up to ten days. 

In workplaces, the existing penalties remain in place: those found without green passes can be suspended without pay for five days and fined from 600 to 1,500 euros; while employers who don’t carry out checks can be fined from 400 to 1,000 euros.

Member comments

  1. We have been denied entry to restaurants two times in the past 3 days because our paper CDC cards were not accepted. This will only get worse as Omicron spreads through Italy.

    I understand the fear of fines that restaurants face, but there is nothing in the decrees that say that the CDC card cannot be used. The MdS needs to put out a notice clarifying the rules to the establishments.

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COVID-19 RULES

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

The health ministry is reviewing its quarantine requirements as the country's Covid-19 health situation improved again this week, according to Italian media reports.

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

Italy has taken a more cautious approach to Covid in recent months than many of its European neighbours, keeping strict isolation rules in place for anyone who tests positive for the virus.

But this could be set to change in the coming days, according to media reports, as one of Italy’s deputy health ministers said the government is about to cut the isolation period for asymptomatic cases.

“Certainly in the next few days there will be a reduction in isolation for those who are positive but have no symptoms,” Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa said in a TV interview on the political talk show Agorà on Tuesday.

“We have to manage to live with the virus,” he said.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reported that the compulsory isolation period could be reduced to 48 hours for those who test positive but remain asymptomatic – provided they subsequently test negative after the day two mark.

Under Italy’s current rules, vaccinated people who test positive must stay in isolation for at least seven days, and unvaccinated people for ten days – regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

At the end of the isolation period, the patient has to take another test to exit quarantine. Those who test negative are free to leave; those who remain positive must stay in isolation until they get a negative test result, up to a maximum of 21 days in total (at which point it doesn’t matter what the test result says).

Health ministry sources indicated the new rules would cut the maximum quarantine period to 15 or even 10 days for people who continue to test positive after the initial isolation period is up, La Stampa said.

The government is believed to be reviewing the rules as the latest official data showed Covid infection and hospitalisation rates were slowing again this week, as the current wave of contagions appeared to have peaked in mid-July.

However, the national Rt number (which shows the rate of transmission) remained above the epidemic threshold, and the number of fatalities continued to rise.

The proposed changes still aren’t lenient enough for some parties. Regional authorities have been pushing for an end to quarantine altogether, even for people who are actively positive – an idea Costa appears sympathetic to.

“The next step I think is to consider the idea of even eliminating the quarantine, perhaps by wearing a mask and therefore being able to go to work,” he told reporters.

“We must review the criteria for isolation, to avoid blocking the country again”.

At least one health expert, however, was unenthusiastic about the proposal.

Dr Nino Cartabellotta, head of Italy’s evidence-based medicine group Gimbe, tweeted on Tuesday: “There are currently no epidemiological or public health reasons to abolish the isolation of Covid-19 positives”

Massimo Andreoni, professor of Infectious Diseases at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Tor Vergata University of Rome, was more ambivalent about the prospect.

The isolation requirement for asymptomatic cases should be “revised somewhat in the light of the epidemiological data”, he told reporters, but urged “a minimum of precaution, because the less the virus circulates and the fewer severe cases there are, the fewer new variants arise”.

When the question was last raised at the end of June, Health Minister Roberto Speranza was firmly against the idea of lifting quarantine requirements for people who were Covid positive.

“At the moment such a thing is not in question,” he told newspaper La Repubblica at the time. “Anyone who is infected must stay at home.”

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