Commentary: How Italy – once overwhelmed by infections – is living with endemic COVID-19
ORLANDO, Florida: Italy was the first Western democratic country that faced the COVID-19 crisis.
In early 2020, as parts of the country were being overwhelmed with coronavirus cases, some media outlets argued that the Italian government had taken too long to impose restrictive measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
But Italy has learned several lessons since its first national lockdown last March, and now – a year and a half after that first crushing wave of COVID-19 cases – the country has put in place measures that in some cases are more stringent than in other countries, including the United States.
With these new protocols in place – notably, a health certificate to show vaccination status for certain activities – daily life is moving toward what many people call a new normal.
Despite some opposition, Italians support these measures, even when they come with a degree of discomfort or extra steps.
A VACCINE PASSPORT
As of Aug 6, the government requires individuals to present the “Green Pass” – Italy’s extension of the European Union Digital COVID Certificate – to attend large events, dine indoors, access gyms and more.
The Green Pass is essentially a vaccine passport: A document, either digital or printed, that confirms its holder has tested negative for the virus in the last 48 hours, been fully vaccinated or recovered from a case of COVID-19.
According to a survey conducted by SWG Research, more than 50 per cent of Italians supports the Green Pass to regulate activities other than traveling. Business owners welcomed the Green Pass as a tool to avoid more restrictive measures – if not even another lockdown in the fall.
With the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus spreading rapidly, the Italian government is urging more people to get vaccinated, and requiring use of the Green Pass seems to be motivating more people to get the shots.
As soon as Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced the Green Pass requirements on Jul 22, several regions registered record bookings for vaccine appointments, including Abbruzzo, Lazio, Lombardia, Piemonte and Toscana.