Italian government accelerates its vaccination drive amid debate over 'reinforced' covid Green Pass to avoid Christmas restrictions.
Italy has stepped up its covid vaccination campaign, bringing forward the start date of its administration of the third dose of the vaccine to the over-40s from 1 December to 22 November.
The move comes amid growing calls for a 'reinforced' or 'super' Green Pass, the certificate proving the holder has been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from covid-19.
Under plans put forward by several regional governors this week, the so-called Super Green Pass would apply only to those who have been vaccinated or recovered from the virus, not to those who show the results of a negative covid test.
The governors' request is in response to concerns of economic repercussions if regions return to the medium-risk 'orange zone' or highest-risk 'red zone' under Italy's system of coronavirus restrictions, as covid infections continue to rise.
Currently all of Italy is in the lowest-risk white zone, with a number of regions on the verge of entering the low-moderate risk yellow category, where minimal restrictions apply.
The governors fear a negative impact on the economy and society if the tougher orange, or red zone, restrictions come into force, voicing their strong opposition to the idea of closures and partial lockdowns, particularly over the Christmas season.
The governors, led by the president of the Liguria region Giovanni Toti, are calling for the introduction of a 'double track' Green Pass, with more stringent measures for the unvaccinated.
Under the governors' proposal the current Green Pass system would remain unchanged for Italy's workers, who require the certificate to enter the workplace, retaining the existing requirement that those who aren't vaccinated or recovered from covid must show a negative test result every 48 hours.
However the system would change in relation to the other aspects of the Green Pass, from leisure and social life to entertainment and sport.
Critics say the "divisive" idea of a two-tiered Green Pass rewards those who have been vaccinated and penalises those who have chosen to remain unvaccinated.
On Saturday, Italy's minister for public administration Renato Brunetta told newspaper Corriere della Sera that a Super Green Pass is the way forward, to avoid "making everyone pay for the selfishness of some."
"If hospitalisations worsen, I think it is appropriate to strengthen the Green Pass by excluding the unvaccinated from certain social activities: restaurants, stadiums, ski slopes, theatres, cinemas, discos" - said Brunetta - "Why make the whole world of the service sector, culture, sport and leisure pay with restrictions that risk plunging us back into partial lockdowns?"
Italian premier Mario Draghi "was at the forefront of extending the Green Pass to the world of work" - Brunetta added - "And he will make the right decision this time too."
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