2021-10-15 13:27:07 As Italy Mandates Covid Passes, Rules Vary Across Europe
As Italy Mandates Covid Passes, Rules Vary Across Europe
BRUSSELS, FRANCE — On the same day that Italy implemented Europe’s most stringent vaccine requirements, a patchwork of measures across the rest of the continent reflect those countries’ domestic politics and potential opposition to such measures.
In more than a dozen of the European Union’s 27 member states, some form of a Covid pass is frequently required for entering indoor public spaces or large events, or for long-distance travel, as authorities try to encourage more people to be vaccinated and prevent new outbreaks of infection.
Slovenia, in a similar move to Italy, began requiring most employees to present a vaccination certificate, proof of recovery from Covid-19, or a negative coronavirus test result at least once a week last month. People working in grocery stores, pharmacies, and emergency medical services are exempt, but since the measures were implemented, the overall vaccination rate for adults has increased from 45 percent to more than 58 percent.
In France, which began charging unvaccinated people for Covid-19 tests on Friday, vaccinations are required for health workers, and more than 3,000 people who are still unvaccinated have had their employment suspended.
A health pass is also required to enter cultural venues such as museums, theaters, and concert halls, as well as to attend sporting events. Similar measures are in place in Austria, Cyprus, the Netherlands, and Portugal, while the Brussels region of Belgium began enforcing a “Covid Safe Ticket” on Friday.
In Germany and Greece, a health pass is also required for those working in the hospitality industry.
The requirements have sparked some controversy, including large protests this summer in France, where anti-vaccination sentiments are strong. However, millions of residents have been vaccinated since the announcement, and public opposition has waned.
Other EU countries have lifted such mandates as vaccination rates have increased. This month, Portugal, where 86 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, removed the requirement for a digital certificate or a negative test to dine in restaurants. Last month, authorities in Denmark, where 75 percent of people are fully vaccinated, stopped requiring a Covid pass in nightclubs.
Further east, the picture is drastically different. Despite the increasing number of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, most Eastern European countries do not require Covid-19 certificates to enter public places.
Most governments in the region relaxed their coronavirus restrictions almost entirely this summer, and there is little expectation that they will introduce new measures amid fears of a public backlash.
“I don’t see governments enforcing vaccine incentives or requirements in Eastern Europe,” said Vessela Tcherneva, deputy director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “It would be too politically charged.”
Slovenia is an exception, where authorities stated that a health pass was the only way to “keep life normal.”
“The only other option,” Health Minister Janez Poklukar told reporters last week, “was a full lockdown, which none of us can imagine, none of us want, and which we as a society cannot afford.”