Plans by anti-COVID vaccine activists to shut down rail travel in Italy fell apart Wednesday as police outnumbered protesters at railway stations across the country. The Italian government has gone ahead with its plan to require Green Passes for long-distance travel, and the pass became mandatory Wednesday.
Italian authorities have said they are adamant that everything needs to be done in the country to keep down the number of new COVID-19 infections.
The Green Pass, which requires a single dose of a COVID vaccine or negative testing before travel on high-speed trains, domestic flights, interregional buses and most ferries, became mandatory September 1.
Anti-vaccination protesters used social media to call for protests at railway stations throughout the country on Wednesday.
Authorities are working to change the minds of people like this unidentified woman in Rome, who is among the 30% of those over the age of 12 who are still not vaccinated in Italy.
She tells Italian state television she does not agree with the vaccine and does not want to be vaccinated or tested.
Many opponents of the vaccine say requiring it infringes on their personal freedoms, and many say they do not believe the vaccines have been sufficiently tested.
However, in a country that has had close to 130,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the outbreak in the country began in February 2020, most people interviewed at railway stations said they favor the decision to require the Green Pass.
This woman about to board a high-speed train at a station in Rome told Italian state television she thought it was the right thing so that people can travel safely.
Only a handful of protesters turned out as police deployed in large numbers to avoid disruptions to services.
Italy’s Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and other politicians had made clear that violence would not be tolerated, only peaceful protests.
The warning comes after a spate of violent incidents that have included physical attacks on journalists covering anti-Green Pass protests.
In recent days, anti-vaccination activists have also targeted Italian politicians and doctors on social media for speaking in favor of the Green Pass in what some have dubbed a climate of hatred against the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
The government of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi introduced the digital or paper Green Pass certificate earlier this summer. The objective was to prevent new infections and keep the numbers under control as well as encourage those still not vaccinated to get their shots.
In addition to bans on travel, those without a Green Pass cannot eat indoors at restaurants and cafes, cannot enter cinemas, theaters or leisure centers.
New daily COVID-19 infections in Italy now are under 7,000, but there are fears that there could be new increases in the coming weeks as the delta variant spreads.