The Italian government said that a recent negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination will become a requirement beginning on Aug. 6. This "green certification," as the government calls it, will be necessary to dine indoors at bars and restaurants, visit museums and theme parks and exercise at gyms and swimming pools.
The green certification was previously only used for Italians who wanted to visit family members and other loved ones at nursing homes, or for people who wanted to attend weddings.
The Italian government has not answered why the vaccines and vaccine passports are also necessary for people with natural antibodies to COVID-19. According to the latest case counts, around 4.3 million Italians who have already gotten infected would qualify for this exemption if it were implemented.
The green certification makes Italy just the latest European country to make vaccine passports or negative COVID-19 tests a requirement for participation in normal social activities.
It follows in the footsteps of France, which released a similar requirement. Visitors to venues that can hold more than 50 people need to show vaccine passports before being allowed entry. (Related: Vaccine passport now MANDATORY in France, following more than a year of corporate media propagandists claiming the idea was a "conspiracy theory.")
French President Emmanuel Macron did not provide a date for when the vaccine passport requirement would go into effect. But after he made the announcement, over 100,000 people in France have marched out in protest of the policy.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the expansion of the use of green certifications is necessary to combat the rise of the post-vaccine delta variant of COVID-19.
"The green certification is essential if we want to keep businesses open," said Draghi at a press conference on Thursday night announcing the vaccine passport's expansion. "The virus's delta variant is menacing. We must act on the front of COVID-19."
A spokesman for the prime minister said the enforcement of the vaccine passport requirement will be up to businesses. Any business that is caught being lax with enforcement would be punished. Draghi stated that without the vaccine passport mandate, his government could be "forced" to reintroduce coronavirus restrictions.
The prime minister also ridiculed vaccine skeptics, saying that, by not getting vaccinated they are asking to die.
"The appeal to not [get] vaccinated is an appeal to die," said Draghi in a statement. "Without vaccinations, we must close everything again."
Italian Minister of Health Roberto Speranza said he hopes the green certifications can encourage more people to get vaccinated. Speranza added that the vaccine passport allows the country's economic activities "to stay open … with the guarantee of being surrounded by people who are not contagious."
Some elements within the Italian government are pushing back against these extreme measures. Reports indicate that Draghi wanted the green certification to also be a requirement to take public transport, including trains, and domestic flights. This proposal was shelved due to significant pushback from conservative party Lega Nord, which warned that such a proposal would kill what little tourism the country still had.
The number of new COVID-19 cases recorded in Italy has doubled over the past week. On Thursday, July 22, 5,057 new cases were recorded. On Friday that number rose to 5,142.
The Italian government continues to blame the recent surge on its unvaccinated population. But data shows that this is very unlikely. As of Friday, the country has administered nearly 64 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
Around 53 percent of the country is fully vaccinated. Another 14 percent of the population has received the first dose of the vaccine and are awaiting a second dose.
Learn more about vaccine passport policies in Italy, France and the rest of the world at Pandemic.news.