Italy to require ‘green pass’ for public venues; effect on US military personnel in the country unclear
NAPLES, Italy — U.S. military personnel may face difficulties obtaining a so-called “green pass” to eat inside restaurants or go to other public venues, under new Italian government rules passed to stem surging numbers of COVID-19 cases and encourage citizens to get vaccinated.
Italy on Thursday approved a plan starting Aug. 6 that requires the pass for those age 12 and over to gain access to a variety of public places, including gyms, movie theaters and pubs. Previously, the pass only was used to ease travel for citizens between EU and Schengen countries.
It wasn't immediately clear from an Italian government statement whether a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card would be accepted in lieu of a green pass at venues, though Aviano Air Base indicated it would be in updated guidance Friday.
U.S. Naval Support Activity Naples said Friday in a statement that leadership “is working with our legal team to confirm that the white U.S. CDC vaccination card will serve as proof of vaccination for U.S. service members, DoD civilians and their families out in town.”
“We are also working through the legal implications of this new policy for on-base services,” the statement said.
To be eligible for a green pass, people must prove they have received at least one vaccine dose in the last nine months, recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months or tested negative in the previous 48 hours, The Associated Press reported Thursday.
The certification is needed to “to keep economic activity open” and will allow people to enjoy entertainment “with the assurance they won’t be next to contagious people,” said Prime Minister Mario Draghi, according to the AP report.
The U.S. and Italian embassies have verified that a CDC vaccination card would be accepted as proof of vaccination for travel, NSA Naples said in a Facebook post earlier this month.
The card is an “officially recognized substitution for the EU Digital Certificate when traveling within Italy,” the post said.
It’s not certain if U.S. citizens living in Italy would be eligible for a green pass if they were vaccinated on base or in America.
It’s also unclear how the pass requirement will affect international travelers once they arrive. Many are expected to flock to Italy during August, which is the traditional tourist season for much of Europe.
Italian authorities also haven’t yet discussed publicly how merchants will be expected to check the passes. Diners would still be able to eat outdoors without the passes under the rules.
The U.S. has several military installations in Italy besides NSA Naples and Aviano, including a Navy base in Sicily and U.S. Army Garrison Italy, headquartered in Vicenza.
Army officials said they planned to issue a new general order on coronavirus restrictions soon, with differing rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Over the course of the pandemic, the various commands have often waited to review new rules after they’ve been released before issuing guidance.
Previously, Navy officials have said that more than 80% of active-duty personnel in the Naples area were fully vaccinated.
Although NSA Naples does track vaccinations for dependents and DOD civilians assigned to the installation, the Navy does not release that data, said Morgan Gilliam, a spokeswoman for Navy Region Europe Africa Central. The installation does not vaccinate Italian citizens who work on base and therefore does not have data for them, Gilliam said.
On Thursday, Italy recorded 5,057 new coronavirus infections, mostly due to the highly contagious Delta variant, according to the Italian Health Ministry. Infections have steadily risen over the last month from as low as 480 new infections recorded on July 5 to 3,555 on Tuesday, data compiled by Reuters show.
Nearly 54% of Italy’s population was fully vaccinated as of Friday, according to the health ministry.
Stars and Stripes reporters Nancy Montgomery and Norman Llamas contributed to this report.