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Italy widens Green Pass restrictions to curb COVID-19 surge




  • In US
  • 2021-07-22 19:15:49Z
  • By Reuters
 

By Crispian Balmer and Giuseppe Fonte

ROME (Reuters) - The Italian government, looking to contain a fresh surge in coronavirus cases, announced on Thursday that from next month people must present proof of immunity to access an array of services and leisure activities.

The so-called Green Pass is a digital or paper certificate that shows if someone has received at least one jab, has tested negative or has recently recovered from COVID-19.

As of Aug. 6, the pass will be required to go to gyms, swimming pools, sports stadiums, museums, spas, casinos and cinemas. Eating in indoor restaurants also requires a pass.

"The Green Pass is essential if we want to keep businesses open," Prime Minister Mario Draghi told reporters.

However, divisions within his unity government meant that proposals to include trains, public transport and domestic flights in the pass system had to be shelved for now, with the rightist League party warning it would kill tourism.

By contrast, the cabinet agreed that discos should remain closed, even for those with a Green Pass.

The Green Pass was introduced in Italy last month, but until now it has only been needed for travel within the Europe Union and to gain access to care homes or large wedding receptions within Italy.

The government's decision to widen its scope followed a similar move by France this month and underscores growing anxiety about the highly contagious Delta variant.

The number of new coronavirus infections recorded in Italy has doubled over the past week, hitting 5,057 on Thursday,

There is also concern that the vaccination campaign is slowing, with many under 50s still not booking jabs.

Some 48.2% of Italians are fully inoculated and 14.1% are awaiting a second jab, according to latest data. Studies shows that double vaccinations offer strong protection from the Delta variant, while initial doses provide only limited cover.

Some rightist politicians, including lawmakers within Draghi's coalition, have refused to throw their weight behind the vaccination drive and have urged people under 40 not to get inoculated. The prime minister denounced such comments.

"Calls for people not to get vaccinated is a call for people to die. If you don't vaccinate, you get sick, you die or you let other people die," Draghi said.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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