Italy: new COVID rules threaten to isolate the country’s islanders

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Residents of Giglio island shop in the steep alleys near the port in June 2020

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Unvaccinated residents on Italy’s islands risk being cast into exile by new COVID-19 rules, requiring passengers to provide a vaccination certificate to board a ferry to the mainland.

Italy targeted the unvaccinated with a host of new restrictions Monday, with proof of vaccination or recovery from a recent infection required to enter public transport, coffee shops, hotels, gyms, and other everyday activities.

According to Francesco Del Deo, mayor of Forio, one of six municipalities of the island of Ischia, the new rules will heavily discriminate against the freedom of movement of islanders who have not been vaccinated.

“The problem is that while mainland residents can go wherever they want with their private car, even to a different region, we must find a way to let our fellow citizens reach the mainland, otherwise this would be discrimination,” Del Dea stated.

“Because the vaccination becomes de facto mandatory for all islanders, who cannot leave the island”, he said.

Del Deo is also the president of the Italian Small Islands Association, which includes Capri, Lampedusa, Elba, and many other islands.

He wrote a letter to both prime minister Draghi and the minister of health Roberto Speranza to request an exemption for islanders, asking for a negative test certificate to be enough to board a ferry.

A small group of protesters held a demonstration at Ischia Port Monday, a few steps away from a Naples-bound ferry, where commuters showed their vaccination certificates as they boarded.

Protesters were seen carrying banners reading slogans such as “Islander yes, isolated no”.

“Not everyone has the option to get vaccinated. Everybody must be free to choose, therefore if somebody does not want to get vaccinated they (the government) cannot oblige him or her. For these reasons I don’t think it is fair to enforce the mandatory vaccination certificate,” said Alessia Xicsa, one of the commuters who uses the ferry to get to mainland Italy.

“I am in favour of both the mandatory vaccination certificate and the vaccination because we must protect ourselves from this pandemic,” another commuter Francesca Silvestri stated.

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