News in Italy: Draghi to set out roadmap easing restrictions amid "encouraging data" on covid situation.
The Italian government on Wednesday approved a new decree that will ease some covid restrictions as premier Mario Draghi pledged to move towards an "even greater reopening of the country" in the coming weeks.
Green Pass duration
The relaxing of rules will primarily affect schools and those who are fully vaccinated, with the duration of the Green Pass to be indefinite for people who have had the third "booster" shot or have had two doses of the vaccine and recovered from covid.
The move came the day after the government reduced the duration of the Green Pass from nine to six months, causing anxiety for fully vaccinated people whose vaccine pass had been nearing its expiry date.
The six-month validity for the Green Pass will now only apply to those who have had two shots.
Travel to Italy
Travellers from countries with different vaccination rules to Italy will be able to use a "basic" Green Pass - obtainable by a negative covid test - to access restaurants, hotels and most other activities.
Health minister Roberto Speranza explained: "When a foreign visitor arrives in Italy we now recognise the vaccination status of the person's country of origin and if the norms of this vaccination status are not identical to ours, we ask that person for an additional covid test to access our services that require the Green Pass."
Speranza added that the move would resolve "many problems" and give "an important response" to the tourism sector.
The government's colour-coded system of restrictions, including the highest-risk red zone, will no longer apply to those who are vaccinated.
Italy's quarantine rules for schools of all levels are to be revised, with a strong focus on in-person learning, reducing the parameters that trigger remote learning, whose duration will drop from 10 to five days.
Vaccinated students can remain in school, wearing FFP2 masks, while in kindergartens classes will switch to remote learning only when five or more students test positive, compared to one previously.
Stressing that in-person education has always been the priority of this government, Draghi said: "We will meet the demands of families, who have found the current quarantine regime too complicated and restrictive."
The premier said that "based on the scientific evidence", the government is set to announce "a calendar for lifting the current restrictions".
However, while the news will be a relief to those who are vaccinated, life in Italy is increasingly difficult for the unvaccinated.
Green Pass: difference between Basic and Super
The government is currently operating a two-tiered Green Pass system, with the "basic" version of the pass available by testing negative for covid, alongside the "super" version which can only be obtained by those who are vaccinated or have recovered from covid.
The Green Pass is now needed to enter post offices, banks, public offices and tobacconists, in addition to hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons.
A Super Green Pass is required on public transport, in bars and restaurants (both indoors and outdoors), gyms, hotels, cinemas, theatres, malls and sports stadiums.
From 15 February all public and private workers aged over 50 will only be able to access their workplace with a Super Green Pass, under Italy's controversial vaccine mandate for the over-50s.
The government has also extended its outdoor mask wearing mandate until 10 February and postponed the reopening of nightclubs closed until that date.
Almost 88 per cent of Italy's population over the age of 12 has been vaccinated and around 34 million people have received a third dose.
For official information about the covid-19 situation in Italy (in English) see the health ministry website. Photo credit: MikeDotta / Shutterstock.com.
EVENTS THIS WEEKview calendar