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Covid: Italy tobacconists ready to strike over new Green Pass rules

The 13 million customers who enter tobacconists in Italy each day will need a Green Pass from 1 February.

Italy risks a strike by tobacconists in protest over the government's new rules obliging customers to have a Green Pass, the digital certificate proving the holder has been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from covid-19.

The threat of strike action was announced on Monday by the president of the Italian Tobacconist Federation (FIT), Giovanni Risso, who said: "We have begun negotiations with the government and we will soon meet the health undersecretary Andrea Costa who has shown attention to our demands".

From 1 February people in Italy will need a Green Pass to enter a tobacconist shop as the government's tightens its covid restrictions designed to reduce infections and boost the country's vaccination drive.

The threatened strike - on a date yet to be determined - relates to tobacconists having to check that customers possess a Green Pass, as outlined in the government's latest decree.

"13 million Italians enter the tobacconist's every day not only to buy cigarettes but, above all, to pay bills, collect a package or buy bus tickets" - Risso told news agency ANSA - "Customers who, already now, with the current rules and given the small size of the Italian tobacconists, enter one at a time, respecting their turn patiently."

Risso said the obligation to check for a Green Pass would pose a security risk for tobacconists when leaving the counter and would risk sending smokers to the black market, "into the hands of those who are certainly not interested in the possession of the Green Pass."

Stressing that the issue comes down to "common sense", Risso said: "We understand the importance of the Green Pass as an obstacle to the spread of infections and, above all, as a stimulus to vaccination even for the most recalcitrant."

He added that tobacconists are "neighbourhood shops" which serve the local community, underlining that they continued to provide "essential services for all citizens, despite the rage of the pandemic", during the covid lockdowns.

Risso said that this commitment by tobacconists "is now being ignored", adding that "our sense of responsibility must be taken into consideration", warning that if the government "does not listen to our voice, the strike will be inevitable."

From 1 February Italy's list of "non-essential" shops and services where the Green Pass is required will be extended to public offices, banks, post offices and tobacconists.

This means that unvaccinated people will need a negative covid test result in order to collect their pension in person, and smokers without the Green Pass will have to buy their cigarettes from vending machines rather than over the counter.

For official information about the covid-19 situation in Italy (in English) see the health ministry website

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