Tourists taken aback as Italy inaugurates Covid ‘green pass’

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Rome (AFP)

“Do you have your green pass? ”

Visitors from across Italy were asked the question on Friday as new coronavirus rules for museums and indoor dining rooms took effect – those who answered ‘no’ were frustrated.

At the Vatican Museums, a number of tourists have been turned away despite pre-booked tickets, after failing to provide proof of a Covid-19 vaccine, previous infection or negative coronavirus test.

“We were looking forward to it so we are a little disappointed. But it is what it is,” said Tereza Poganyova, 20, on vacation with a friend from the Czech Republic.

However, she admitted to receiving an email reminding her of the requirement, and most of the visitors queuing to see the Sistine Chapel on Friday morning were ready.

Hugo Munoz, 48, from Texas, used his US vaccination card to enter and welcomed the new checks, even though they resulted in longer queues.

“I know there are mixed feelings (…) but we did it at home and for us at least it reassures us a bit that we are probably more protected,” he said. to AFP.

But tourists aren’t the only ones caught off guard. Millions of Italians are still not vaccinated and therefore those who have not recently recovered from the coronavirus can only get a green pass by taking a test.

There were pockets of protests, most recently on Thursday evening, when thousands of people gathered in Turin’s main square, Piazza Castello, in an event dubbed ‘No Fear Day’.

Most were maskless and some were holding signs saying “Freedom” and “State Discrimination”.

– ‘Respect the rules’ –

Not everyone in restaurants in central Rome was asking for a green pass for diners wishing to sit inside on Friday, despite the risk of stiff fines.

Many establishments are concerned about how the pass will work in practice, especially with tourists with tests or vaccination certificates in a format different from that recognized in the EU.

And would that lead to discrimination?

“Will I end up having to put all the vaccinated inside, with all the unvaccinated outside?” requested a server who asked not to be named.

On Thursday evening, the government also agreed to make the green pass compulsory for teachers as well as passengers on domestic flights, ferries and long-distance trains and buses from September 1.

Ministers insist the measures are crucial in curbing the increase in coronavirus cases, while allowing businesses to remain open.

“I say to all Italians: get vaccinated and follow the rules,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi told reporters on Friday before Parliament’s summer recess.

Italy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, recording more than 128,000 deaths, the highest in the European Union.

A successful vaccination campaign has helped turn the tide in recent months, with more than 62 percent of the population over 12 now completely stung.

However, the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant is cause for concern, with an additional 7,200 cases reported on Thursday.


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