Italy readies curbs on the unvaccinated as Covid-19 cases rise

A clampdown in Italy would be the latest in a wave of restrictions across the continent.
A clampdown in Italy would be the latest in a wave of restrictions across the continent.PHOTO: REUTERS

ROME (BLOOMBERG) - Italy's government is debating tough new measures to stem an increase in coronavirus cases, which could include restrictions on unvaccinated people and could be approved as soon as Wednesday (Nov 24).

The measures would only allow those with proof of inoculation to access venues such as cinemas and theatres, according to people familiar with the talks.

The rules would still allow the unvaccinated to enter their workplace after testing negative for the virus.

A clampdown in Italy would be the latest in a wave of restrictions across the continent as countries grapple with another wave of the disease.

There's been even more dramatic action elsewhere, with Austria reimposing a full lockdown and proposing compulsory vaccinations.

Germany isn't ruling out a similar move, and Dr Angela Merkel held an emergency meeting last night with the political leaders likely to form the next coalition government to discuss tougher measures.

In France, the government may start a testing campaign in schools as surging cases force more classrooms to close.

President Emmanuel Macron is meeting with ministers on Wednesday to discuss the worsening situation, although he isn't expected to announce new restrictions.

Governments are also pushing boosters to beef up protection from the virus.

Italy has shortened the timeframe before getting another shot to five months from six months after completing the first vaccine cycle.

Sweden announced on Wednesday that it will offer all adults a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine after a six-month gap, and France is discussing opening up boosters to more adults.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi's government is meeting on Wednesday to discuss the details of how its so-called "Super Green Pass" would be implemented and when it would become effective, the people said.

It introduced new rules last month requiring all workers to hold a digital "Green Pass".

The move, meant to encourage more people to get jabbed ahead of winter, sparked scattered protests because it was viewed as a way to make shots mandatory.

Another layer of restrictions could be seen the same way.

While Italy is not experiencing the same brutal rise in cases as some countries, it has recorded a steady increase in the positivity rate and number of deaths.

Regional chiefs have been pushing for new rules on the unvaccinated.

Italy operates a three-tier system that classifies regions into coloured zones according to how critical the rate of transmission is.

The country is currently white because all regions are reporting low enough cases, but if an area were to become yellow, orange or red then it could face new curbs, including closures of restaurants and other venues.