UPDATE 2-Italy tightens screws on Covid 'anti-vaxxers', extends jab mandate

·2 min read

(Recasts after government statement)

By Angelo Amante and Gavin Jones

ROME, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Italy on Wednesday tightened the screws on people still unwilling to take an anti-COVID jab, sharply restricting access to an array of services and making vaccines mandatory for a wider group of public sector workers.

Under the measures, which will come into force from Dec. 6, unvaccinated people will not be able to enter venues such as cinemas, restaurants and sports events, Prime Minister Mario Draghi's government said in a statement.

Italy's move comes as much of Europe is increasing restrictions to try to grapple with a new wave of the epidemic.

The new rules, announced after a cabinet meeting, also extend mandatory vaccination, already in force for healthcare workers, to all school staff, police and the military, beginning from Dec. 15.

The measures tighten the requirements for a Green Pass, a certificate that allowed the vaccinated access to various leisure activities and services, to exclude people who have received a negative test in the past 48 hours but have not had a COVID-19 shot.

Most of these steps were widely expected following comments by ministers in recent days, but in a surprise move the government also decided to make the Green Pass mandatory for use on urban public transport.

This will be challenging to enforce, given the crowded rush-hour conditions of Italy's buses and metros. For access to public transport the Green Pass will be available to those with a negative test, not just the vaccinated, the government said.

The duration of the Green Pass will be cut from a year to nine months, the government statement said.

The number of daily infections in Italy is running at around 10,000 at present, with around 80 deaths per day. That compares with around 20,000 cases in the same period last year, when hundreds of deaths were reported every day.

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