Monday, August 23, 2021


The European Green Pass, available to EU citizens or legal residents who have completed their Covid vaccination cycle, tested negative to a molecular or antigen test or been cured of Covid, seems to me an excellent idea and I am very grateful to have mine. It can be carried in a paper version or simply downloaded to our phones, with a QR code which has to be scanned for entry into bars and restaurants (except for having a quick coffee at the bar counter) and public venues such as museums and theatres.

However, like all good ideas, it is only good insofar as it works and many bar owners and restaurateurs have been pointing out possible problems, the first being, who is going to do the scanning? Some small bars or restaurants might have to employ an extra person to do it. Secondly, it was initially thought that the person scanning the code would also have to ask the client for proof of identity, which the  restaurateurs objected to vehemently because, they understandably claimed, they are not police. The government quickly clarified that this measure would not be necessary but would remain an option.

However, now another problem has emerged, for the green pass is required only to eat or drink inside the bar or restaurant, not outside, but where, in the height of summer, do most clients, especially tourists wishing to experience the Italian lifestyle, wish to eat? Exactly - outside. Fearing that all the outside tables at their establishments would quickly be taken, thus driving away business from clients not wishing to eat inside, some proprietors are asking clients who have the green pass to eat inside, whether this is their wish or not. I can understand the restaurateurs' position, because their sector has been very heavily hit since March 2020, but the green pass holders are saying, with some justification, that they are now being penalised for being vaccinated.

A few weeks ago, before the advent of the green pass and when Sicily was in a yellow zone with light Covid restrictions, all clients wishing to sit down had to do so outside. Now this is a problem for me because I am asthmatic and cannot tolerate smoking, so I feared that, after so long, I would not be able to visit my local bar. However, they have a veranda ( which we would call a conservatory) area, which is classed as outside but smoking is not allowed, so that solved the problem for me and I still sit there now that we are in a white zone (very few restrictions). 

Cases, however, are increasing, which was probably inevitable with tourism, general opening up and a reluctance among elderly people to have the vaccine, but nobody wants to cancel the white zone in the tourist season. Instead, a system has been created whereby not only the number of cases and the number of intensive care beds occupied in a given location are looked at weekly by both regional and national government, but also the number of people vaccinated in that location. Modica has thereby escaped further restrictions this week, but 55 Sicilian comuni have been placed under these, many in nearby Siracusa Province and five here in Ragusa Province. We are already holding our breath for next week. Meanwhile, there are a lot of very frustrated bar and restaurant clients and proprietors of those establishments who are at their wits' end. They are only, after all, trying to save their businesses, even if upsetting vaccinated clients may not be the wisest way of doing so!

Typical Sicilian summer bar breakfast
of granita and brioche

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