The Italian Ministry of Health confirmed that athletes who refuse a COVID-19 vaccine ‘will not be allowed to play’ again this season, raising questions about how it will impact foreign teams visiting Italy for cup competitions.
A new Government decree was finalised today and comes into effect from January 2, reacting to the latest wave of COVID cases as the Omicron variant takes hold.
That means stadium capacity has been reduced from 75 per cent to 50 per cent, with masks mandatory at all times and only those who are vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID can enter.
The biggest change is that only those with the Super Green Pass – proving vaccination status or recent recovery – can enter the locker rooms, as they are closed spaces.
This means if there are any players who are still unvaccinated, they will not be able to play.
“The anti-vax athletes will not be allowed to play again this season,” Undersecretary for Health Andrea Costa told Radio Punto Nuovo.
“The pandemic is a very dynamic situation and we cannot afford to waste all the sacrifices we have made over the last two years.
“We have made a clear delineation with this decree between those who are vaccinated and those who decide against it. Let us not forget that eight out of 10 intensive care beds are occupied by the unvaccinated.”
There are very few in Serie A who are unvaccinated, as in October 98 per cent of the players had the jab.
However, with the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League coming up, not to mention the World Cup play-offs in March, it is not clear how that will extend to potential opponents who are unvaccinated.
It could still lead to a diplomatic incident, especially as the vaccination rate in other leagues is significantly lower than in Serie A.
“We hope that in stadiums there can be a greater sense of personal responsibility too, as we saw too many fans recently not wearing masks. We need everyone to make that sacrifice together.
“Other countries took a more severe stance by locking down their stadiums, but we believe the reduction to 50 per cent capacity will suffice, so long as the rules are respected.”
The Super Green Pass means that providing a negative test 48 hours before the event will no longer be enough to gain entry.
That is true for fans, players and members of staff.
The decree should also affect the protocol for teams going forward, because the period of self-isolation after testing positive has been reduced to five days if you are vaccinated.
It remains 10 days if you are unvaccinated.
Also, quarantine is no longer necessary if you had the vaccine or booster within the last four months and are asymptomatic, even if you are in close contact with someone who tests positive.
You do, however, have to wear a FFP2-strength mask for 10 days and provide a negative test after five days.
For those who had the vaccine or booster over four months ago, contact with someone who tests positive will see you quarantine for five days rather than seven.
Costa (Sottosegr. Salute): “Gli atleti no vax non possono più giocare” https://t.co/pOkgaNGj3h
— TuttoJuve.com (@TUTTOJUVE_COM) December 30, 2021