Unvaccinated Italians Face New Restrictions As Holidays Approach | WGN 720 radio

FILE – A man receives a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, at a vaccination center located in the Cinecitta cinema studios in Rome, April 20, 2021. Italy makes life more uncomfortable for people who have not been vaccinated with the holidays are approaching, excluding indoor restaurants, theaters and museums until the New Year in a bid to control the spread of the coronavirus and encourage vaccine skeptics to get vaccinated. From Monday, December 6, 2021 to January 15, the police can check whether diners sitting in restaurants or bars have a “super” health pass certifying that they are either vaccinated or cured of the virus. (AP Photo / Andrew Medichini, File)

MILAN (AP) – Italy is making life more uncomfortable for unvaccinated people as the holidays approach, excluding them from indoor restaurants, theaters and museums to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and encourage vaccine skeptics to to get vaccinated.

From Monday to January 15, Italian police can check to see if diners in restaurants or bars have a “super” green pass certifying that they are either vaccinated or have recently recovered from the virus. Smartphone apps that check the status of people’s health passports will be updated and those who have simply tested negative in recent days for COVID-19 will no longer be allowed to attend concerts, movies or performances.

The number of new COVID-19 infections in Italy has gradually increased over the past six weeks, even before concerns arose over the new variant of omicron. It’s a worrying trend as Italians plan parties and getaways to spend time with friends and family. Christmas travel and holiday gatherings were severely restricted last year due to a larger increase in contagion.

As Germany and Austria move to make vaccines mandatory, Italy instead tightens restrictions on those unvaccinated at the friendliest time of year – while allowing those who are vaccinated to live longer or less as usual.

Italy’s vaccination rate is higher than that of many of its neighbors, at 85% of the eligible population aged 12 and over and 77% of the total population. But people in their 30s, 40s and 50s were found to be the most reluctant to be vaccinated, with nearly 3.5 million still not having received their first doses.

They are also the same age group that is now hardest hit by the virus, according to Silvio Brusaferro, head of Italy’s National Institute of Health.

Also from Monday, people must have a health pass to access local public transport and stay in hotels – which can also be acquired with a recent negative test. In Milan, the prefect said health cards will be checked before people are allowed to board the metro or buses.

With the holiday shopping season heating up, many cities including Rome and Milan have ordered mask warrants even outside.

Public health officials say vaccinations, along with prudent public behavior, including wearing masks in crowds, are key to reducing infection levels as winter conditions push more activities into the city. interior. They attribute Italy’s relatively high vaccination level as one of the reasons the infection curve is not as steep as it was last winter, when broad restrictions were imposed with the spread of the delta variant. .

“It is clear that after two years of the pandemic, we cannot easily close schools for physical classes and shut down economic activity,” said Gianni Rezza, director of prevention at the Ministry of Health.

“Therefore, you can try to limit the spread of the virus with sustainable measures and with proper use of the health pass. Then the big bet is on vaccinations, ”he said.

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Follow all of AP’s stories about the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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