ROME (AP) — With daily COVID-19 cases sharply rising again, Italy will soon require people to have passes reflecting their health status to access gyms, museums, movie theaters, the inside of restaurants and other venues.
Premier Mario Draghi’s government approved a decree Thursday ordering the use of the so-called “green” passes starting on Aug. 6. To be eligible for a pass, individuals must prove they have received at least one vaccine dose in the last nine months, recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months or tested negative in the previous 48 hours.
The passes will be needed to dine at tables inside restaurants or cafes, to attend sports events, town fairs and conferences, and to enter casinos, bingo parlors and pools, among other activities. according to officials.
The certification is needed to “to keep economic activity open″ and will allow people to enjoy entertainment ”with the assurance they won’t be next to contagious people,” Draghi said.
“The Italian economy is going well. It’s reviving, and Italy is growing at a rhythm superior to that of other EU nations,” the premier told reporters.
Some 40 million people in Italy have already downloaded a “green pass,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said. He noted that the certification is already required to attend wedding receptions and to visit residents of care homes.
More than half of people in Italy older than 12 and thus eligible for COVID-19 vaccines have received two doses, and several million more have received a first dose.
But fueled in part by huge street celebrations after Italy’s wins in the recent European soccer championships this month, new daily cases have climbed again. Health experts say the delta variant of the coronavirus is rapidly gaining traction in much of Italy, facilitating transmission.
Still, thanks to vaccination, “pressure on hospitals is strongly diminished,” Draghi said. While Italy was reporting nearly 400 virus-related deaths a day four months ago, the number has been far lower lately, with fewer than a dozen deaths recorded on some recent days.
“The vaccine campaign permitted the economy to revive,″ Draghi said. ”The first thing I have to say is to invite all Italians to get vaccinated and to do it right away.”