Italy regions ask for covid restrictions to apply only to No Vax

Italian governors point to "Austria model" as some regions risk return to yellow zone restrictions amid rise in covid infections.

The Italian government has turned down a request from Italy's regional leaders that any future covid-19 restrictions should apply only to those who have chosen not to get vaccinated.

The regions pressed the government on Tuesday to follow the so-called Austria model with restrictive measures applying only to unvaccinated people, reports newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.

This request for a hard-line approach comes amid an increase in covid infections and hospitalisations that puts some Italian regions at risk of returning to 'yellow zones' under Italy's colour-coded system of coronavirus restrictions.

The president of the Liguria region Giovanni Toti, of the centre-right Forza Italia party, said that any future restrictive measures should apply to "people who have not had the vaccine, not to people who have done so correctly".

Toti made the announcement on Tuesday after a phone call with the president of Italy's conference of regions, Friuli Venezia Giulia governor Massimiliano Fedriga, who already stated his preference to follow the Austria model in an interview with newspaper Il Giornale.

"The restrictions cannot be borne by the vaccinated" - said Fedriga of the right-wing Lega party - "It would be excessive to make the situation weigh on those who have taken two or even three doses, protecting themselves and the community."

Fedriga also blamed the recent No Green Pass protests in Trieste for causing "the biggest cluster" of covid-19 infections in Friuli Venezia Giulia since the start of the pandemic.

Attilio Fontana, the Lega governor of Lombardia which was the region hardest hit by covid, wrote on Facebook: "We cannot think of restrictions for these citizens who have shown trust, awareness and a sense of the common good."

The president of the Tuscany region, Eugenio Giani of the centre-left Partito Democratico, is also in favour of introducing restrictive measures for those who choose not to get vaccinated, saying he believes it is "right" to "limit their movement in public spaces."

"Now we are in the white zone, with the hope of being able to stay there for the whole winter - said Giani - If those who are not vaccinated want to participate in community life, they must be immunised. If they don't, they take advantage of what others have done."

The Lega president of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, takes a sceptical view of Italy adopting the so-called Austrian model: "I think it would be difficult for us to apply from a constitutional point of view."

Matteo Renzi, the former Italian premier and leader of the centrist Italia Viva party, said he "would like Italy to adopt the same model as Austria: that is, only those who have not had the vaccine go into lockdown, otherwise we would all have to pay the consequences of those who did not [get vaccinated]."

Asked his views on the matter, Lega leader Matteo Salvini stated: "I refuse to think about new closures, new lockdowns, new limitations."

For now at least, the government has put the brakes on the governors' request, with sources stating that Italy is not in the same situation as Austria and that the nation's intensive care units are under control.

Italy's minister for regional affairs, Mariastella Gelmini, told reporters on Tuesday that there was no talk of "new restrictions at the moment, but we will evaluate."

"The government has taken decisions that allow our country to remain open" - said Gelmini - "We have 84 per cent of citizens vaccinated with two doses, the government monitors the progress of infections with great attention, encourages the third dose, has made decisions about transport, but for the moment we stop here."

In the meantime the public debate in Italy is wide open.

Photo credit: VILTVART / Shutterstock.com.