The Italian government decided this Wednesday exclude unvaccinated people from certain recreational activities, in order to contain the increase in coronavirus infections and prevent financially damaging lockdowns just as the economy begins to grow again.
As of December 6, only people with proof of vaccination or have recovered from COVID-19 can eat inside restaurants, go to the movies or sports events, thereby excluding the possibility of accessing those occasions with only a negative test.
A new government decree also made mandatory vaccinations for employees of police agencies, the armed forces and schools, among others. Until now, vaccines were required only for healthcare workers and nursing home employees.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the measures were necessary to prevent the “slow but steady” increase in infections from spiking, while preserving the progress that Italy has made in relaunching its economy, the third largest in Europe, which contracted 8.9% last year.
Concerns are especially acute given the year-end tourist season and the wave of infections. Regional health officials in the north, for example, are looking forward to the ski sector, which normally generates 1.2 billion euros ($ 1.5 billion) in annual revenue and employs 5,000 permanent and 10,000 temporary workers, to remain open after losing. two seasons due to the coronavirus.
“We have started to return to normality. We want to preserve this normality “Draghi said at a press conference after the cabinet unanimously approved the measures.
Italy, where the outbreak in Europe broke out in February 2020, has seen an increase in infections, but much more measured than other countries in the European Union, with about 10,000 new cases and less than 100 deaths a day.
More than 84% of the population over 12 years of age in Italy is fully vaccinated, but appointments for the first dose have stalled, and 20 small towns in northern Italy, where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the country, entered a partial quarantine on Wednesday because infections were increasing rapidly.
The aim of the new measures is to prevent these general closures from occurring again – curfews from 8 in the afternoon to 5 in the morning and the closure of bars and restaurants at 6 in the afternoon. The new decree will allow restaurants and other venues to remain open even as cases increase and hospitals fill up, but only for those who can prove they are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19.
By Nicole Winfield (Associated Press)