Saturday, July 24, 2021

Covid-19 Vaccine Holdouts Face Restrictions in Europe as Delta Variant Spreads

Following-up, "Large Protests in France Over Covid Restrictions (VIDEO)."

At WSJ, "Proof of vaccination is increasingly required to enter restaurants and other public spaces":

European governments worried about the rapid spread of the Delta coronavirus variant are nudging, and in some cases pushing, people to get a shot by introducing restrictions to daily life for those without a Covid-19 vaccination.

In most cases, vaccination still isn’t obligatory, with a few exceptions such as healthcare workers in Italy. Yet by closing off the unvaccinated from aspects of daily life such as indoor dining at restaurants or going to the gym, governments are looking to make life more difficult for people holding out against getting vaccinated.

The governments have the dual objective of overcoming hesitancy among people who don’t have a hard-core ideological stance against vaccinations, while stemming the need for new lockdowns that would damage European economies. Politicians and public-health officials are pushing the idea that vaccination equals more individual liberty, not less.

The tool being used in most European Union countries to separate the vaccinated from the holdouts is the digital Covid-19 certificate, which has different monikers in different nations.

The certificates, called green passes in Italy and health passes in France, were designed principally to facilitate travel between countries, but now have found an expanded use. They have a unique QR code and can be printed or stored on a mobile phone. In most countries, they can also be accessed through official coronavirus contract-tracing mobile-phone apps.

“The green pass is a means by which people can continue to do their activities, with the guarantee they are doing it in the presence of people who aren’t contagious,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Thursday as he presented a series of new restrictions.

If France, Italy and other European countries succeed in getting the undecideds to roll up their sleeves for a shot, their efforts could become a blueprint for the U.S. and other countries that have seen their vaccination drives stall.

The restrictions have had early success, pushing millions of French people to sign up for vaccination appointments in the past week and helping turn around a stalled campaign. The most recent data show that on average, 298,000 first shots have been administered a day, compared with 161,000 a day in early July.

In Italy, the number of daily first doses ticked up in the past two weeks as the government discussed making activities unavailable to the unvaccinated. In several of the country’s 20 regions, requests for a first shot doubled on Friday, the day after the new measures were announced, compared with what they had been at the beginning of the week.

“We can’t force people to get vaccinated, but those who don’t do it will have fewer opportunities,” Walter Ricciardi, a professor of public health and an adviser to Italy’s health minister, said in a newspaper interview.

But in deference to one of the daily rituals of millions of Italians, the vaccination requirement for indoor dining and drinking doesn’t apply to people having an espresso or cappuccino while standing at a bar.

In most countries that have introduced restrictions on the unvaccinated, proof of recovery from Covid-19 or a negative test will open the same doors. The restrictions usually apply to everybody older than 12, the youngest age for which vaccines have been approved.

In Greece and other countries, indoor dining is only open to the vaccinated, recovered or tested. Italy will follow suit on Aug. 6, adding the requirement for those taking part in indoor sports such as swimming, going to a gym and attending large events like concerts, whether indoors or outside. Trade fairs, museums and a host of other venues are on Italy’s off-limits list for the unvaccinated. In France, the government has set restrictions for museums and movie theaters, and plans in August to extend them to venues including restaurants, both indoors and outside...

Still more.