Following in the footsteps of France, Italy will now require proof of at least one dose of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from the past 48 hours to enter museums, restaurants, theaters, stadiums, cinemas, gyms, and venues for other leisure activities.
Without this so-called “green certification,” Italy would likely have to reintroduce lockdown restrictions to combat the spread of disease.
The number of new COVID cases in Italy rose to 5,057 on Thursday, more than double the previous week, according to the New York Times. The virus’s new, more contagious Delta variant is leading to an increased number of infections, especially among the unvaccinated.
“The Green Pass is essential if we want to keep businesses open,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at a press conference. “The virus’s Delta variant is menacing.”
“An invitation not to get vaccinated is an invitation to die, or to let others die,” he added. “No vaccines mean a new lockdown.”
Earlier this week, France began requiring visitors to show a health pass to enter venues with more than 50 people.
The Italian government hopes that its pass will lead to more vaccinations in the nation. Currently, just 46 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, and 61 percent have had at least one dose. The nation was the first country in Europe to mandate vaccinations for health care workers.
In a concession to the far right party the League, which feared a negative effect on tourism, the green pass is not required on trains, public transport, and domestic flights, according to Reuters. Nightclubs and discos will continue to remain closed.
Matteo Salvini, head of League, which is part of the nation’s coalition government, voiced his opposition to the green pass for “excluding 30 million Italians from social life” at a rally protesting the restrictions over the weekend.
An estimated 40 million Italians have already downloaded the green pass, which was previously required for attending weddings and visiting nursing homes. The new regulations for the pass, which is an extension of the E.U.’s digital COVID certificate, go into effect August 6.