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Italy tightens restrictions on the unvaccinated with new COVID pass

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By Euronews  with AFP
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Carabinieri policemen check the green health pass of public transportation passengers in Rome, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021
Carabinieri policemen check the green health pass of public transportation passengers in Rome, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021   -   Copyright  Credit: AP

Italy has become the latest country in Europe to tighten restrictions on those unvaccinated.

On Monday, its "super" health pass came into effect, which allows those vaccinated or recovered from COVID to access cinemas, theatres, concerts, major sporting events and indoor restaurants.

Previously, Italy's basic health pass was enough to get into such venues. The pass can be obtained by those inoculated, recovered from COVID or providing a negative test.

Italy's basic pass, first introduced in August, was extended to the workplace in October. It is now also needed to use local transport.

In the capital, Rome, dozens of police were out at transportation hubs checking both green passes and personal identification, finding a cooperative mood among commuters. Still, a 50-year-old Roman became the first to receive a 400-euro fine after getting off the bus at the northern Flaminio station without the “basic” health pass, said Stefano Napoli, deputy chief of Rome's municipal police force.

"It was about time that they checked it,'' said Sara Ben, a Rome commuter, noting the absence of controls on the often-packed local transportation throughout the pandemic.

Milanese were enjoying the first long weekend of the season, including Tuesday’s celebration for the patron saint of Saint Ambrose and Wednesday’s national holiday, leaving commuter routes more empty than usual. But few checks were evident around the main Central Station, either for regional trains or local buses and subways.

Commuter Veronica Bianchi said her health pass wasn't checked on a regional train arriving in Milan. “But they didn't check the ticket either,'' she said.

She favours the government's moves to encourage more people to get vaccinated and said she noted that people in their 20s like her are more apt to get the vaccine.

”Frankly, I think we are tired of being locked down. I work in a young company, and it was a race to get the vaccine,'' Bianchi said.

Italy was the first European country to be hit by the pandemic in early 2020 and has so far reported more than 134,000 deaths. Almost 85% of the population aged over 12 is vaccinated.

Even though infections are rising, it has currently been less impacted than its neighbours, with around 15,000 to 20,000 new daily cases reported recently.