Italy braces for protests on tracks over COVID passes | World news

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ROME (AP) – The Italian government pledged to crack down on protesters on Wednesday threatening to block train tracks across the country as the rule requires COVID-19 tests or vaccines to take effect for long-distance national public transport .

In a bid to curb the transmission of infections now that many have returned from summer vacation, domestic travelers to Italy are now required to present a so-called “Green Pass”. This certifies that they received at least one dose of the vaccine more than 15 days ago, tested negative in the past 48 hours, or recovered from COVID-19 in the past six. month.

The rule, announced a few weeks ago, applies to domestic flights, train travel between regions and sea travel. Some ferries are exempt, especially those serving many small islands that have no other connection to the mainland, and those used by commuters between Sicily and the southern tip of the continent in Calabria.

Local buses, trams and metros are exempt from the rule, which was announced by the government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi when the number of daily cases began to rise steadily as the delta variant of the virus became prevalent in Italy.

Earlier this summer, a “green pass” requirement began for those wishing to dine indoors, access gyms, or attend crowded venues like concerts.

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On the eve of the entry into force of the transport rule, Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese pledged zero tolerance against any demonstration on the railroad or other violence. Several recent protests against the “Green Pass” requirement, notably in Rome and Milan, have turned violent, with police having to rescue a state television reporter after a female protester started pulling her by the hair and that a journalist was repeatedly punched in the face. Ministers and doctors have received threats.

Lamorgese expressed “the strongest condemnation of attacks launched with unacceptable tones on social media against members of the government, politicians, doctors and journalists over the ‘Green Pass’ and the containment measures against the spread of the COVID-19 “.

Police are investigating the incidents.

“No illegal acts will be allowed in the protest initiatives at the stations” charged by the organizers for Wednesday, Lamorgese said.

Activists from a far-right group, New Force, as well as members of far-left organizations participated in the rallies.

So far, around 70% of Italian residents aged 12 or older have been fully vaccinated. But experts have expressed concern that many people between the ages of 50 and 69 have not received or signed up for vaccines.

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