As of August 6, the “Green Pass” immunity passport – officially “the Green COVID-19 Certificate” part of the EU Digital COVID Certificate scheme – is mandatory in a variety of public spaces throughout Italy.
For the vast majority of Italians who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, obtaining the Green Pass has been as simple as receiving an email or text message with a code to download their certificate or, alternatively, uploading their data to the website government official. .
However, for some people whose status has not been recognized by the system, obtaining their certificate has been a serious problem, dragging them into weeks of hurdles and uncertainty.
As the Green Pass scheme is extended even further in the coming months, the anxiety felt by those caught in the system continues to grow, as many don’t know if their coveted certificate will finally arrive.
Some commentators have described the famous Italian bureaucracy as Kafkaesque, but in some cases it would be more appropriate to avoid the Teuton and make proper comparisons with the circles of hell of the Florentine poet Dante.
A large number of Italians in 2021 are, it seems, trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare when it comes to the COVID Green Pass.
What is the Green Pass?
The “Green Pass” scheme was announced by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in July, and the government hopes the scheme will continue to drive adoption of the vaccine, especially as the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread.
The Certificate, which can be both digital and physical, is provided to Italians over 12 years of age (existing anti-COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been approved by the European Medical Agency for the very young and are therefore exempt from the scheme) who have received a vaccine approved by the EMA, at least fifteen days after the first dose.
Those who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19, instead, will have to perform a PCR or antigen test to obtain the Green Pass, which will be valid for 48 hours. An exception is for those who have proof of having recovered from COVID-19 within the last six months, who are eligible for the certificate.
Since August 6, having a Green Pass is mandatory in a variety of public settings, such as for dining indoors in bars and restaurants, as well as for accessing museums, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas, theaters and stadiums. Refusal to comply, both by clients and employers, can result in a fine of up to € 1,000.
It’s more, as of September 1, it will also be required for those who wish to travel by air, intercity train, interregional buses and most interregional ferries, as well as for school staff (students excluded) and all members of the university. Additionally, Italians must travel to and from other EU countries, as part of the EUDCC.
The Green Pass scheme has been criticized by certain politicians, especially from the right, who have accused it of “discriminatory” and have organized protests against its implementation. However, he has the support of the majority of Italians. [https://www.liberoquotidiano.it/news/italia/28221800/green-pass-sondaggio-liberta-61-per-cento-si-schiera-favore-certificato.html]
“I felt helpless”: vaccinated Italians could not get the Green Pass
The Green Pass scheme has been considered an “extraordinary” success by the Italian Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, who pointed out how 20 million downloaded their certificate in three days alone.
However, accounts have emerged of various people who have found it almost impossible to obtain their pass, despite being entitled to it.
These include Italians who officially reside abroad and are therefore registered with the AIR (Anagrafe degli italiani residenti all’estero, or the Register of Italians residing abroad), people who have received each dose of your vaccine in different regions and people who encounter specific technical problems. difficulties, especially the elderly.
Gioele Passoni, a PhD researcher at the University of Oxford, was one of those people who found himself escaping from the cracks of the system.
Born in Italy, he recently returned to the country and received a double dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine in his home region of Lombardy this July, making him automatically eligible for the Green Pass. However, after his certificate did not arrive, he gradually realized that the process was not going to be easy.
“My health card [Italian health insurance card] It has not expired, but I have been told that it was deactivated from the moment I moved abroad, ”he explained. “All the assistance and contact points listed were completely useless.”
In contrast, Passoni’s fiancée, who is British and was vaccinated in the UK, was able to immediately obtain her Green Pass in Italy, unlike him.
After more than a month of emails and phone calls to obtain her Green Pass, she finally received her digital certificate on August 26, after having contacted the public relations office of the Italian Ministry of Health. Although happy that the state recognized his vaccination status, he felt “exhausted” by the ordeal.
“I won’t even begin to describe last month,” he told Euronews. “I lost business days to resolve the problem and felt powerless every time I called a helpline and ended up with no response or assistance of any kind.”
Others are still struggling.
“I’ve been trying and calling for a month,” lamented Marta Fallani, a French resident born in Rome. “And nothing.”
Fallani was vaccinated in Rome and plans to return to France shortly, where she will be asked for the EU Covid Digital Certificate in order to enter.
“It is a problem that is affecting Italians, born in Italy, who have a codice fiscale (tax code / social security number) but do not have their health insurance card,” he said. It is important to note that the Italian state does not require citizens to have an active health insurance card or even a tax code in order to be vaccinated and obtain the Green Pass.
“I have called all the helplines and no one has been able to help. I have to go to France in a few days and I have no idea how things will go.
How many have been affected?
The current scale of the problem remains unknown, with no official statistics or surveys being published.
However, a recent report has suggested that potentially thousands of people have had trouble obtaining their Green Pass, particularly those with “mixed” vaccines, who received AstraZeneca for their first injection and an RNA vaccine for the second, or who received the second. doses in a different region than where they had the first one. These problems have been attributed to a breakdown in communication between regional authorities.
“We have received calls from several people who have struggled to obtain their Green Pass simply because they have had their second chance outside the region,” was the response of an employee working at the Pavia Health Protection Agency in Lombardy, where This problem has been reported frequently. This can be explained by the fact that many Lombard residents receive their second dose of vaccine while on vacation in coastal regions like Puglia.
One Facebook group with more than 600 members is full of stories of people who have had a hard time getting their Green Pass, ranging from people who have not been able to get it after their single dose, to people who have recovered from COVID and whose status has been ‘lost’ in the system .
Among the many problems is the fact that the helpline (800 91 24 91) is rarely accessible, and there are many reports of how it is cut frequently.
The Health Ministry has yet to provide an official response to the problem, stating that they were “overloaded” with emails. However, a member of the press office privately stated that “millions of Italians have received their Green Pass certificates” and that people who encounter difficulties are still “part of a very small minority”.
While those caught in such bureaucratic limbo may be few compared to those who have managed to obtain their certificate without complications, the impact it can have on their daily lives is immense.
The lack of a Green Pass, especially from the beginning of next month, will severely weaken it and may result in a person having to pay out of pocket for various tests simply to access certain basic services.
“The inefficiency of the system is insane,” Passoni told Euronews, after celebrating the late arrival of his Pass. “I wonder how many other absurd problems there are in the public administration database, and it makes me rip my hair out.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism