Covid: Italy to lift Green Pass and mask rules on 1 May

Italy's covid stage of emergency ends on 31 March.

The Italian government has unveiled a roadmap for the lifting of covid-19 restrictions, including the Green Pass and the wearing of masks, under a new decree approved on Thursday.

Covid restrictions will be lifted in phases following the expiry of Italy's state of emergency legislation on 31 March, after more than two years of sweeping rules designed to stem the spread of the virus.

From 1 May, there will no longer be any need for the Green Pass - the digital certificate proving the holder has been vaccinated or recently recovered from covid - which is currently required to access most services and activities in Italy, including restaurants and public transport.

The news was announced by premier Mario Draghi and health minister Roberto Speranza at a press conference on Thursday evening following a cabinet meeting at Palazzo Chigi in Rome.

"These are important measures that remove almost all the curbs that have restricted us," Draghi said, thanking Italians for their "altruism and patience over these years."

"We are often perceived as having little sense of civic duty but instead we have done very well in this pandemic" - the premier said - "We should be proud of that."

Draghi described the Green Pass as "a great success" and also hailed vaccines for "avoiding almost 80,000 deaths in Italy in 2021 alone".

The lifting of Green Pass restrictions will include the 'Super' Green Pass, which can only be obtained by those who have been vaccinated or recovered from covid, reports Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

The over-50s will no longer be required to have a Super Green Pass to access their workplace from 1 April. Those who are unvaccinated will need to present a negative covid test every couple of days, as is the case with unvaccinated workers under the age of 50.

Health minister Speranza confirmed that the suspension of over-50 workers without the Super Green Pass will no longer happen. "It will be enough for them until April 30 to have the basic Green Pass" - he said - "The suspension from work will remain only for healthcare personnel and the staff of hospitals and nursing homes, with this obligation extended until 31 December."

The Super Green Pass will remain mandatory, until 30 April, to dine indoors in restaurants, to enter wellness centres, gaming rooms, discos, cinemas, theatres and indoor concerts. It will also be required to participate in indoor conventions and sporting events, as well as indoor parties celebrating civil or religious ceremonies, including baptisms, communions and weddings.

The Super Green Pass system will also remain in force until 31 December for those visiting hospitals and nursing homes.

From 1 April neither version of the Green Pass will be required to consume food or drinks in outdoor areas of bars and restaurants.

People in Italy must continue to wear masks in enclosed public spaces, including schools and public transport, until 30 April. FFP2 masks will continue to be mandatory until this date on public transport as well as in cinemas and theatres.

Commuters on public transport will no longer be obliged to have a Green Pass from 1 April. It will however remain a requirement on long-distance transport until 30 April.

From 1 April the Green Pass will no longer be required to enter post offices, banks, tobacconists or public offices.

For tourists, the Green Pass will not be required anymore in hotels from 1 April onwards.

The decree will also see the lifting of the 'contact' quarantine rules in schools. From 1 April remote learning will only apply to students with covid-19, not their classmates.

The government is also to drop all crowd limits for venues such as sports stadiums, concerts and open-air night clubs, which can operate to 100 per cent capacity from 1 April, with the basic Green Pass required.

The government will also scrap the colour-coded covid risk system for Italian regions and dismantle its structure of coronavirus advisors, including the technical scientific committee (CTS) and the emergency covid commissioner General Figliuolo whose role ends on 31 March.

As of today, 49.3 million people in Italy - more than 91 per cent of the population over the age of 12 - have received at least one dose of the covid vaccine.

Photo credit: Matej Kastelic / Shutterstock.com.