«In early August, Italy banned the unvaccinated from most forms of social life, then most forms of travel – and now most forms of work. The unvaccinated are pariahs. But unlike in France, where hundreds of thousands have protested against compulsory vaccine passports, in Italy hardly anyone has demonstrated against 'Il Green Pass'.
The Italians have never been especially keen on liberty, and as a result liberty has never flourished in Italy. This, I think, explains why this removal of the basic liberties – or rights, if we must – of unvaccinated Italians by the unelected premier Mario Draghi is so popular. On Thursday, Draghi's government of national unity issued a new decree extending the pass to the entire workforce: 23 million Italians. This will come into effect on 15 October.
The unvaccinated have already been banned since 6 August from most indoor public places such as bars, restaurants and gyms, plus many outdoor ones such as football stadiums and the Colosseum. And since 1 September from planes, ferries, inter-regional trains and coaches, plus universities (staff and students) and schools (staff only). The vaccine has been compulsory for health workers since April.
That 75 per cent of Italians over 12 are already fully vaccinated and 80 per cent are expected to be so by the end of this month has made no difference. Punishments for those caught in flagrante without 'Il Green Pass' include fines of up to €1,500 (£1,200), the temporary closure of business premises and venues, and suspension from work without pay.
But more than two thirds of the population approve both Draghi as Premier and his draconian treatment of the unvaccinated, according to the polls. A similar proportion think he should be even more dictatorial and replace 'Il Green Pass' with compulsory vaccination. Indeed, 61 per cent of Italians think that far from depriving them of liberty, these bans enhance their liberty.
None of this surprises me after living here for 25 years, because Italy is only pretending to be a free country. You see this in the little things such as the identity card you must have and show all the time. There is so much red tape that everyone is guilty of something.»