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Italy to Place Further Restrictions on the Unvaccinated with ‘Super Green Pass’

Under Italy’s current ‘green pass’ system, the unvaccinated must provide proof of a negative Covid test taken within the last 48 hours to be permitted the same rights as the vaccinated, but that is set to change when the country adopts the ‘super green pass’. When the new rules are brought in, the unvaccinated must now show that they have recovered from Covid or get jabbed in order to enter cinemas, gyms, stadiums, and numerous other public venues, although it is not yet apparent whether the measures will be enforced nationally or only apply to local regions with high infection rates. The Guardian has the story.

The ‘super green pass’ is expected to take effect over the next week and would require people to prove they are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid in order to access cinemas, theatres, gyms, nightclubs, ski lifts and stadiums, as well as to be served indoors at bars and restaurants.

Under current ‘green pass’ rules, those who provide proof of a negative test taken within the previous 48 hours are permitted to access those activities.

The Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, has been under pressure from regional governors to impose a stricter health mandate against people who have not been vaccinated. He is meeting cabinet ministers on Wednesday afternoon to give the decree the final nod, according to reports in the Italian press.

Draghi is also reported to be contemplating making the Covid vaccine obligatory for the police force and teachers.

It is unclear if the new pass would be required across Italy or only in regions with high infections and where hospitals are under strain.

Italy introduced its green pass in August and made it mandatory for workplaces in October. It is also required for boarding long-distance trains and domestic flights. Under the new measure, unvaccinated people will still be able to travel and access their workplace with proof of a negative test.

The workplace mandate intensified protests across the country, especially in the northern city of Trieste, where there has been a sharp rise in infections and hospitalisations in recent weeks. Calls for tighter rules have been led by Massimiliano Fedriga, the president of Friuli Venezia Giulia, the region surrounding Trieste.

This month Fedriga, a politician with the far-right League, described the anti-vaccination and anti-green pass protests as “idiocy”. He said on Sunday that the super green pass was not discriminatory and the only alternative would be another lockdown.

Umberto Lucangelo, the head of an intensive care unit at a hospital in Trieste, recently said 90% of Covid patients were unvaccinated and many had been involved in the protests.

The tougher rules have been supported by regional presidents from across the political spectrum. Stefano Bonaccini, the centre-left Democratic party president of Emilia-Romagna, told Ansa: “I think people who are vaccinated should have a preferential path in those places of social and cultural life, in particular, in order to prevent them from having to close.”

Worth reading in full.

Italy Makes Covid ‘Green Pass’ Mandatory for All Workers

The Italian Government will force all workers – both in the public and the private sectors – to have a ‘Green Pass’ proving that they have either been vaccinated, tested or recently recovered from Covid. Those who don’t comply could have their pay stopped after five days and businesses that don’t check passes will be heavily punished. BBC News has the story.

The measure, due to come into force on October 15th, aims to boost vaccinations in a country that has been badly hit by the virus. 

Green Pass certificates for Covid, provided both digitally and on paper, are already required to access Italian train stations, cinemas, restaurants, gyms and swimming pools. 

School staff are also required to show a pass and some teachers have reportedly been turned away from work.

On Thursday, the Italian Government approved a new law to extend the requirements to all workplaces and employees across all sectors, including the self-employed. 

Businesses and staff could face fines of up to €1,500 (£1,280) if people are found to be working without a valid Green Pass.

Announcing the decision, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the new measures would improve safety and “make our vaccination campaign even stronger”. 

“The implementation of a pass such as the one we are bringing into force with this decree will, we are certain, help us push forward this vaccination campaign,” he said. 

Despite a vocal anti-vaccination minority, Italians have broadly backed the Government’s vaccination campaign.

Nearly 65% of Italians have now been fully vaccinated, but infections have been rising, driven by the Delta variant.

We followed Italy’s lead on locking down. It’s not inconceivable that we could do the same on Covid passes.

The BBC News report is worth reading in full.

Italy, Austria and Germany Could Be Added to “Green List” This Week

Reports suggest that more countries could be added to the Government’s “Green List” later this week, which would allow unvaccinated Brits to holiday abroad without needing to quarantine when back in the U.K. The MailOnline has the story.

Italy, Austria and Germany are among the potential destinations that appear to pose a low enough risk to be downgraded in a review due on Thursday.

The move could make life easier for Brits who are desperate to get away, but have yet to receive both doses. 

People who are double-jabbed are due to be exempted from having to self-isolate on return to “Amber List” countries from “Freedom Day” next Monday.

But they will have to prove they are fully vaccinated, and there fears of huge delays as the rules are eased. …

Meanwhile, Britons will still need to consider the restrictions that are being imposed by other countries – with many trying to stop the Delta – or Indian – variant being imported from the U.K. …

Experts have predicted that a dozen more countries could be added to the Green List – where vaccine status is not an issue for the restrictions in England – in a review on Thursday. 

Former BA strategist Robert Boyle told the Telegraph that Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Canada, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Taiwan now meet the criteria for the loosest controls.

That would bring the total on the Green List to 39, with any changes expected to take effect from next week. …

Under the new arrangements, travellers will still be required to fill out a passenger locator form with details of their home address.

They will also need to confirm they have booked a day two PCR coronavirus test. Border Force agents must insect [sic] the documents for passengers at passport control. However, airlines will be responsible for checking vaccination status.

Border officers have warned that the huge rise in bookings since the loosening was announced will mean long queues.

Before Covid, three-quarters of people who passed through the U.K.’s border did not require any documentation checks other than verifying that their identity matched their passport.

Lucy Moreton, Professional Officer for the ISU Immigration Union, representing frontline border staff, told the Times: “This decision will open up foreign travel to a large number of new travellers. But we are not set up to cope with that sort of demand. 

“There is no way that the border can maintain that level of checks as the number of travellers increase.

“We’ve got away with it so far because the number of travellers are so low. But even at this point we’re seeing queues of one to two hours. 

“From the number of bookings we’ve seen already, we’ll easily see three, four-hour queues when people start returning from their holidays.”

Worth reading in full.

Covid Vaccinations Made Mandatory for All Health Workers in Italy

The Italian Government has mandated Covid vaccines for all health workers, warning that those who do not take the jab could lose their jobs at least until the end of the year. The Mail has the story.

Italy has mandated Covid vaccines for all health workers in a move aimed at crushing anti-vax sentiment.  

Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who stands at the vanguard in the EU’s jabs battle with Britain, said health workers, including pharmacists, who refused the vaccine could be struck off until the end of the year. 

Italy’s vaccine roll-out, dented by the EU’s failure to secure AstraZeneca doses, is faltering with just 16.03% of its population inoculated, compared to more than 50% of people in Britain, amid soaring infections.

The country’s entrenched anti-vaccination movement came into sharp focus after the recent discovery of clusters of hospital staff refusing the jab despite Italy having Europe’s highest death toll. …

Italy’s Government said today: “The aim of the measure is to protect as much as possible both medical and paramedical staff and those who are in environments that may be more exposed to the risk of infection.”

The decree also introduces legal protection for those who administer the jabs, a measure doctors and nurses had demanded after medics were placed under investigation for manslaughter following the death of a vaccinated man in Sicily.

Cabinet plans leaked last month revealed that care home workers in England will also be required by law to have a Covid jab. Similar requirements are being considered for other healthcare workers, such as those who work on hospital wards. The Telegraph reported:

The Cabinet sub-committee paper warns that a “large” number of social care workers may quit if the change is made, and that successful lawsuits on human rights grounds could be possible. It makes clear that a similar legal requirement is being considered for some frontline healthcare workers, such as those on wards, but no decision on that has been taken. …

Its key line is understood to read: “The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State [Mr Hancock] have discussed on several occasions the progress that is being made to vaccinate social care workers against Covid and have agreed – in order to reach a position of much greater safety for care recipients – to put in place legislation to require vaccinations among the workforce.”

The sentence makes it clear that both have decided in principle to change the law to require the vaccination of social care workers, even as the specifics are worked up. Government officials are discussing what the legislation would look like, with consultation on a final detailed proposal expected.

The Italian Government’s decision to mandate vaccines for all health workers is likely to encourage the British Government to extend its current plans – in the same way that Italy played a crucial role in bringing lockdowns to Britain last year. In December, Professor Neil Ferguson revealed that Italy boosted the confidence of British pro-lockdown officials:

[China is] a communist one party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought. … And then Italy did it. And we realised we could.

The Mail’s report is worth reading in full.

Italy and France to “Quickly Resume” AstraZeneca Rollout When EU Medicines Agency Gives Green Light

The leaders of Italy and France have made it clear that they will “quickly resume” their countries’ rollouts of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine when the European Medicines Agency gives the green light, as it’s expected to on Thursday. MailOnline has the story.

The leaders of Italy and France today committed to “quickly” resume inoculations of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine once the European regulator gives the all-clear. 

Italian PM Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to roll the pitch for an imminent climbdown.

On a call the two leaders agreed they were ready to resume using the jab “quickly” if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gives the green light on Thursday.

Mario Draghi’s office said “the preliminary statement today from EMA was positive”. The EMA has found “no indication” that AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine is the cause of reported blood clots.

A top European Commission official today urged EU governments to stop sitting on their vaccine stockpiles.

Stella Kyriakides, the Health Commissioner, said the bloc was in a “race against time” to roll out the vaccine or face several more spikes in infections.

The EU has already seen a disastrous rollout of the vaccine across the continent, with just 8% of adults receiving a jab compared to a third in the UK.

There have been supply problems with both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs, but it was revealed earlier that several countries including Germany are sitting on stockpiles.

“Even with the immense and regrettable challenges around production capacity and deliveries, there are reports of unused reservoirs of vaccines across the EU,” said Kyriakides following talks with European health ministers. …

While Italy has used all of its Pfizer jabs, the country still has 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccines that it banned from going to Australia in storage.

According to the Times, there are some 14.2 million jabs (60%) delivered to EU governments that are yet to be used. 

It seems as though this saga is coming to an end. But might another now commence over Pfizer’s Covid vaccine, which has been linked to more blood clots than AstraZeneca’s in reports from the UK? That’s unlikely given that the Chief of Italy’s medicines regulator has claimed that bans across Europe of the AstraZeneca vaccine were the results of “political” choices.

Worth reading in full.

Italy Set to Impose National Lockdown Over Easter Weekend

Italy is set to impose another national lockdown over the Easter weekend. The decree is expected to be signed into law later today. Sky News has the story.

[This lockdown] will see non-essential shops closed from April 3rd to April 5th, with people only allowed to leave their homes for work, health or emergency reasons, according to a draft Government decree seen by Reuters news agency.

The country – the first in the world to impose a national Covid lockdown just over a year ago – will also enforce tighter restrictions in low-risk areas from Monday.

Those measures – which form part of an existing four-tier colour-coded system – will see movement between towns in “yellow” regions limited and restaurants and bars shuttered.

The news comes just days after Italy surpassed 100,000 coronavirus deaths – the sixth country worldwide to do so after the US, Brazil, Mexico, India, and the UK.

In February, Will Jones wrote on the first anniversary of a day that will “live in infamy” – when the Italian Government quarantined a whole local population in an effort to control a coronavirus outbreak. Over a year later, they’re trying the same failed remedy again.

Worth reading in full.

Italian Man Attempts to Fool Vaccine Mandate by Wearing Fake Arm

On Monday, the Italian Government will introduce a ‘super green pass’ system, where those wishing to enter a wide variety of public places must provide proof that they have been vaccinated (or have recently recovered from Covid), replacing the ‘green pass’ policy which permits the unvaccinated into these spaces if they produce a negative Covid test. The incoming law is believed to be the reason for why a middle aged Italian man wished to acquire a Covid vaccination certificate but not receive the injection, placing a fake silicone mould on his arm as a disguise. However, a nurse noticed the trick, and reported the man to the police. BBC News has more.

An Italian man who wanted a Covid vaccination certificate without getting the jab turned up for his vaccine with a fake arm, officials say.

The man, in his 50s, arrived for his shot with a silicone mould covering his real arm, hoping it would go unnoticed.

But a nurse was not fooled and the man has now been reported to the police.

The nurse told local media that when she had rolled up his sleeve, she found the skin “rubbery and cold” and the pigment “too light”.

After being discovered, the man tried to persuade the nurse to turn a blind eye, la Repubblica reported. But instead she reported him to the police for fraud.

Local police are now investigating the incident in Biella, north-west Italy, and local officials have criticised the man’s actions.

“The case borders on the ridiculous, if it were not for the fact we are talking about a gesture of enormous gravity,” the head of the Piedmont regional Government, Albert Cirio, said in a statement on Facebook.

He said the ploy was “unacceptable faced with the sacrifice that our entire community has paid during the pandemic, in terms of human lives, the social and economic cost”.

La Repubblica suggests the incident may not have been a one-off, pointing to a message on social media that may have been written by the man.

The Twitter post quoted by the paper featured a silicone male chest half-body suit, complete with fake arms and neck, that was on sale on Amazon for €488 (£416).

“If I go with this, will they notice? Maybe beneath the silicone I’ll even put on some extra clothes to avoid the needle reaching my real arm,” the Twitter user reportedly wrote.

The incident comes ahead of a tightening of the rules in Italy for those who have not been vaccinated.

Since August, Italians have needed a Covid ‘green pass’ showing proof of vaccination, a negative test or recovery from the virus to access train stations, cinemas, restaurants, gyms and swimming pools.

But from Monday, these activities will be restricted to those with a ‘super green pass’, which is only available to those who have been vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid.

Worth reading in full.

Omicron Variant Is a Mild Mutation and Governments Must Drop the Hysteria, Says WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has demanded that nations drop their knee-jerk international travel restrictions after reports from South Africa indicate that the Omicron variant is mild and is not more lethal than the Delta variant. In addition, South Africa has not experienced an increase in Covid deaths since the discovery of the new variant, with patients expressing only mild symptoms. City A.M. has the story.

The WHO and Covid experts are increasingly convinced the new Omicron variant is ‘super mild’ and has, so far, not led to a jump in Covid death rates anywhere in Southern Africa.

The WHO is calling this morning for countries to drop travel restrictions and end the mass hysteria, and instead be cautiously optimistic as more and more reports out of South Africa suggest the new Omicron variant is not more lethal than the previous Delta variant.

In fact, there have been no reports of hospitalisations or deaths as a result of anyone being diagnosed with Omicron.

Most patients merely experience a severe headache, nausea, dizziness and a high pulse rate, according to hospitals and medics across Southern Africa.

However, the news of the new variant, first reported in South Africa, led to mass hysteria around the world: markets thumbed and dozens of countries imposed travel restrictions and additional checks, including the U.K., U.S., E.U., Israel, Australia and Japan after the new mutation popped up in the U.K., Germany, Italy, Czech Republic and Israel among other countries.

Dr. Angelique Coetzee, Chair of the South African Medical Association, said this reaction was “medically seen, not justified”.

A GP for over three decades, and chair of the South African Medical Association, she was the first African doctor to suggest to local authorities Covid had mutated into a new strain.

Coetzee called the response from many European countries, including the U.K., “just a hype”.

“Looking at the mildness of the symptoms we are seeing, currently there is no reason for panicking as we don’t see any severely ill patients.”

South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla also said the majority of cases of Omicron seen by doctors in his country have been “mild”.

Asked what he knows about how unwell people are who have it, Dr. Phaahla said: “It is still too early at this stage.”

He added he has heard from GPs that the “majority of the people they’ve been seeing are mild”.

Worth reading in full.

Ursula von der Leyen Says It’s Time to Discuss an E.U. Wide Mandatory Vaccination Law

Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the E.U. Commission, has said that it is “potentially time to think about how we can have mandatory vaccination within the European Union”. Although von Der Leyen reiterated that member states can decide their own Covid response measures, including whether to make vaccination compulsory, she spoke of her concern that 1/3 of Europeans, roughly 150 million, are currently unjabbed which, she claims, is carrying “an enormous health cost”. MailOnline has the story.

Von der Leyen’s comments come after Austria announced plans to make vaccines mandatory for all eligible citizens by February, with an aide to incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz saying yesterday that he wants to follow suit.  

Europe is currently in the midst of a wave of Covid cases that has seen restrictions return across the continent amid fears of another Christmas spent in lockdown.

Adding to those fears is the emergence of the new Omicron variant which is thought to be more infectious than the Delta strain, and has been detected in Europe. 

Von dey Leyen was speaking at a press conference to discuss what measures the E.U. is taking to combat these dual threats.

She said the European Union has enough booster shots for every fully vaccinated adult to get one, urging people to take it within six months of their last jab.

Pfizer vaccines will also be available for children as young a five within the next two weeks after the European medical regulator approved it, she added.

Measures such as masks, hand hygiene and social distancing are also being used she said, but “full vaccination and boosters provide the strongest protection against Covid that is available now.”

Asked by a journalist whether she supported making vaccines mandatory for everyone, she replied: “First of all, this is pure member state competence. It is therefore not up to me to give any kind of recommendation.”

“[But] if you’re asking me what my personal position is, two or three years ago I would never have thought to witness what we see right now. 

“That we have this horrible pandemic, we have the lifesaving vaccines, but they are not being used adequately everywhere, and thus this is an enormous health cost.

“If you look at the numbers we have 66% of whole E.U. population vaccinated, which means we have one third of the population which is not vaccinated. 

“This is 150million people – that is a lot. Not each and every one could be vaccinated, these are very young children and people with medical conditions, but the vast majority could.

“Therefore I think it is understandable and appropriate to lead this discussion now, how we can encourage and potentially think about how we can have mandatory vaccination within the European Union. 

“This needs discussion, this needs a common approach, but it is a discussion that I think needs to be had.”

European leaders have been targeting the unvaccinated with measures since the winter wave of infections began picking up speed last month.

Countries including the likes of Italy, France and Germany tightening rules around their health passes to deny unjabbed people access to public spaces. 

France has also introduced ‘expiry dates’ for its passes that mean adults who have not had a booster within the last seven months will be penalised. 

Austria went the furthest, initially locking the unvaccinated in their homes before reversing that policy with a full lockdown and announcement that jabs would be mandatory for all. 

Worth reading in full.

Lord Sumption Blasts Authoritarian European Regimes

Lord Sumption has written a blistering comment piece for the Telegraph, attacking the draconian measures being rolled out across continental Europe. Here is an extract:

Across Europe, basic norms of civilised society are giving way to panic. The unvaccinated are being excluded from an ever-wider range of basic rights. Austria has criminalised them. Italy has stopped them doing their jobs. The Dutch police have fired on anti-lockdown demonstrators, seriously injuring some of them. We are witnessing the ultimate folly of frightened politicians who cannot accept that they are impotent in the face of some natural phenomena.

If lockdowns, forced closures of businesses and other brutal countermeasures work, then why are these countries on their fifth wave of the pandemic and their third or fourth lockdown? How long must this go on before we recognise that these measures simply push infections into the period after they are lifted?

The logic of persisting with them now is that they can never be lifted. What were once justified as temporary measures to hold the position until vaccines were available are in danger of being forced on people as permanent changes to their way of life. Perhaps the ugliest feature of the crisis is the politicians’ habit of blaming others for the bankruptcy of their own policies.

Worth reading in full.