Image: Copyright AP Photo/Paolo Santalucia
New COVID-19 rules, which require travelers to present a vaccination certificate to board a ferry to the mainland, might send unvaccinated residents on Italy’s islands into exile.
Italy imposed a slew of new restrictions on the unvaccinated on Monday, requiring proof of vaccination or recovery from a recent virus to use public transportation, coffee shops, hotels, gyms, and other commonplace activities.
The new rules, according to Francesco Del Deo, mayor of Forio, one of six municipalities on the island of Ischia, will severely restrict the freedom of movement of non-vaccinated islanders.
“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 comprises the islands of Capri, Lampedusa, and Elba, among others.
He submitted letters to both Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Health Minister Roberto Speranza, requesting an exemption for islanders, requesting that a negative test certificate be sufficient to board a ferry.
A small number of demonstrators staged a rally at Ischia Port on Monday, just a few metres away from a ferry going for Naples, where commuters were required to present their vaccination certificates as they boarded.
Protesters were seen waving banners with phrases like “Islander yes, isolated no” on them.
“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.