Italy: COVID “Green Pass” required for museums and indoor dining
By FRANCES D’EMILIO
ROME (AP) – The Pompeii Archaeological Park offers free swab testing, the Vatican Museums have issued refund instructions, and tourists pulled out smart phones to display QR codes as well as entrance tickets on Friday so that a new COVID-19 certification rule has come into effect in Italy as part of the government’s plan to curb a summer outbreak of infections.
A so-called “green pass” is now required to access archaeological sites, gymnasiums, theaters, indoor pools and indoor sections of restaurants, bars and cafes. To obtain a certificate, individuals must prove that they have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine approved for use in the European Union, recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months, or have results. negative laboratory tests carried out within the previous 48 hours.
The government announced the rule on July 22. Some 50 million of Italy’s 60 million inhabitants had downloaded the certification by the end of July.
Vaccination certificates issued by the United States, Canada, Japan and Israel will be accepted for tourists from these countries. The certificate not drawn up in Italian, English, Spanish or French must be accompanied by a sworn translation.
Along the sidewalk flanking the walls of Vatican City, visitors to the Vatican Museums – one of the world’s most popular attractions – prepared to show their cell phones to workers at the entrance.
“No problem. You have your certificate on your phone,” said Ivana Wolska, a Polish tourist. Wolska expected delays, but “it was so quick”.
Visitors from France found the new Italian system familiar. Their country has already introduced entry requirements that are even stricter than those of Italy since they also apply to al fresco dining,
“It’s good for everyone’s safety. It’s also positive for the economy, ” French tourist Alexine Prenignac said.
While many find it convenient to flash their Green Pass on a phone, paper certification is acceptable in Italy. The Vatican Museums website warned visitors to have ID on hand so staff can “verify beneficial ownership” of the Green Pass. For anyone unwilling or unable to comply, the website offered instructions on how to request a refund for a ticket.
In Pompeii, one of Italy’s most visited tourist sites, authorities have partnered with the city of Naples to offer coronavirus testing during the opening hours of the vast park showcasing the ruins of the ancient Roman city . For now, the tests are given on an experimental basis, free of charge.
In a global emergency such as the pandemic, “it is the task of those who manage a cultural site to best reconcile the needs of health and public safety with our mission to be an inclusive place,” accessible to all, said the park manager. general, Gabriel Zuchtriege.
The Green Pass rule applies to people 12 years of age or older, as children under that age are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Italy.
The initial public reaction to the measure was somewhat limited, as much of leisure life in Italy during the warmer months takes place outdoors. Many gyms, cinemas and theaters traditionally close in August, as staff and guests opt for vacations during the month. With air conditioning still a relatively new phenomenon for many businesses, alfresco dining in trattorias and cafes is a summer tradition in much of the country.
Right-wing leader Matteo Salvini, whose League party is in government, expressed concern that Green Pass requirements for long-distance travel would discourage domestic and international tourism. The tourism industry represents 13% of Italy’s GDP.
On Thursday evening, Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office approved a new rule making this certification mandatory from September 1 for those taking flights, high-speed or inter-regional trains, or ships sailing between regions. An exception was made for the ferries which frequently ply the narrow strait between Sicily and Calabria, a route taken by many commuters and students.
PA journalist Paolo Santalucia contributed from Vatican City.