Italy Foreshadows Mandatory Vaccines and Expansion of Passports to Supermarkets

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Police officers hassle passengers to show their papers through the so-called Green Pass vaccine passport on September 1, 2021 at the Porta Nuova railway station in Turin. On Sept. 1, vaccine passports became required to use the country’s public transit network. The next day, Prime Minister Mario Draghi foreshadowed mandatory vaccination for all eligible citizens once the European Union grants the mRNA and adenovirus vector injections full approval.
Police officers hassle passengers to show their papers through the so-called Green Pass vaccine passport on September 1, 2021 at the Porta Nuova railway station in Turin. On Sept. 1, vaccine passports became required to use the country’s public transit network. The next day, Prime Minister Mario Draghi foreshadowed mandatory vaccination for all eligible citizens once the European Union grants the mRNA and adenovirus vector injections full approval. (Image: MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Italy’s Prime Minister foreshadowed a nationwide vaccine acceptance mandate after the injections are approved by European Union health officials.

According to Reuters, Prime Minister Mario Draghi was paraphrased as saying in comments to the media on Sept. 2 that the four versions of injections the country offers, AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, currently distributed under EU Emergency Medicines Agency conditional approval, “could become compulsory for all” citizens of eligible age after being upgraded to full approval.”

Draghi also told reporters that he was confident 80 percent of eligible citizens over the age of 12 would accept vaccination by the end of September, while at the same time noting his administration intends to further expand its “Green Pass” vaccine passport.

“Minister Speranza and I have been discussing this for quite a while now, and we are inclined to extend the Green Pass requirement,” said the Prime Minister, adding he intended to call a full cabinet meeting to discuss the next wave of passport requirements.

Draghi’s comments come on the back of an existing expansion a day earlier, which forces Itallians to show their papers to access the country’s trains, planes, ferries, or inter-regional busses.

According to a Sept. 2 report by Voice of America, Italian police suppressed citizens intending to launch mass protests at railway stations over the expansion of Italy’s vaccination-status apartheid.

Green Pass requirements have been in force since Aug. 6 for indoor seating at bars and restaurants, fitness locales such as spas and gyms, and recreational activities such as museums, sporting events, and theatres. Businesses who do not enforce Green Pass and customers who skirt the requirements are subject to a €400 to €1,000 fine or a 10-day closure of the business.

On Aug. 24, The Local Italy reported, based on articles in Italian-language media outlets, that Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa said vaccine passports should be required for anyone working “where the continuity of a service must be guaranteed, for example local public transport operators, employees of supermarkets and essential services, or those that have been operational during lockdown.”

Health Minister Roberto Speranza also said his country intends to begin administering the third dose booster injections to “fragile people,” beginning this month, according to News24.

At the end of August, Israel announced fully vaccinated status under its vaccine passport program would automatically expire six months after the last injection, making the acceptance of booster injections effectively mandatory for participation in normal society.

The newest wave of vaccine acceptance promotion appears to be coming from Washington. On Sept. 2, the White House announced the United States would invest $3 billion to become the “arsenal of vaccines for the world,” according to The Washington Post.

For better or for worse, aggressive tactics taken by policy makers against the vaccine hesitant seem to be working, while incentives did not. In late July, reports showed that vaccine acceptance lotteries in Michigan were so ineffective at stimulating uptake that the number was less than 1 percent.

Meanwhile, after the Green Pass first came into effect in Italy in August, vaccine appointments across the country boomed by as little as 15 percent in some regions to 6,000 percent in others.

Of things to come

In May of 2020, Financial Times published an article about the reality of QR code scanning regimes deployed under the Chinese Communist Party titled China’s Covid-19 QR Code Surveillance State.

“Over the past two months, local authorities across China have rolled out health code systems, accessed through smartphone applications, to control the movement of people and identify those who had been diagnosed with the virus or visited areas of high infection.” 

“Sometimes it feels every transaction — even entering a park — is subject to government approval,” complained the author as he recounted experiences of being stranded without the ability to use trains or taxis because he could not, as a foreigner, provide a green QR code scan. 

“In China, many of the restrictions on movement are now being lifted and life is returning to normal. But the code system still lingers in many places,” warned the article. “The temptations of keeping such a system of control in place, or even to centralise and strengthen it, must hold a strong attraction for the Chinese government.”

  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.