Thu, 20 Jan 2022

© Provided by Xinhua

To qualify for a "super green pass," a resident must be fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Officials have said that restricting the movement of the unvaccinated combined with one of the EU's highest vaccination rates will help limit the spread of the virus in Italy.

ROME, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Italy's newest round of coronavirus health restrictions -- among the most restrictive in the European Union (EU) -- went into effect on Monday.

The lead-up to Monday's start date for the country's more restrictive "super green pass" rules was marked by a series of vocal protests against the measures in multiple cities and complaints on social media.

To qualify for a "super green pass," a resident must be fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

© Provided by Xinhua

Unlike the previous green pass, those with a negative COVID-19 test in the previous 48 hours will not be eligible for the new "super green pass." The green pass is also required in hotels for the first time starting Monday.

The new rules are set to remain in effect until at least Jan. 15, and they could be extended further.

On the first day with the new rules in effect, there were few reports of issues. One television report said there were a few delays related to health checks on public transport in Milan and Rome. There were isolated incidents of people being turned away from indoor dining establishments for not having a valid health certificate.

The new rules give police the power to fine patrons or establishments for ignoring rules, but in Italy, sanctions are generally not applied immediately after rules go into effect to allow for a transition period.

© Provided by Xinhua

"There were no real problems on the first day," 29-year-old Rome-based coffee bar worker Alexa Agostini told Xinhua. "We asked to see customers' green passes and they showed them. One customer didn't have his and I told him I'd have to serve him outside, and that wasn't a problem."

Hernan Nucci, 34, co-owner of a pizzeria in Rome, said he was pleased to note how well accepted the new rules were.

"I think everyone is a little nervous about this new variant," Nucci told Xinhua, referring to the new Omicron coronavirus variant. "I think they are willing to accept some limits if it makes everyone safer."

© Provided by Xinhua

Marcantonio Gemelli, a 41-year-old taxi driver, said he hoped the new rules would help convince some unvaccinated people to get the jabs.

"Nobody likes to get a shot but how long do we want to live with these restrictions?" Gemelli asked in an interview with Xinhua. "It makes sense. Protect yourself and your loved ones."

The new rules were put into place after Italy's coronavirus infection rate started to inch higher last month. Officials have said that restricting the movement of the unvaccinated combined with one of the EU's highest vaccination rates will help limit the spread of the virus in Italy.

As of Monday, 84.76 percent of Italy's population over the age of 12 has been fully vaccinated.

But despite the relatively smooth sailing on the first day, not everyone was pleased.

© Provided by Xinhua

Roman hotel and restaurant operator Massimo Offredi said the new rules were another blow to the Italian hospitality sector already reeling from nearly two years of pandemic-related restrictions.

"I understand the need to be prudent and but there has to be a balance," Offredi told Xinhua.

"Most people are vaccinated. If the government doesn't start thinking about the restaurant and bar owners, many restaurants won't be here when things return to normal," said the 60-year-old.

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