Meloni ends part of the Corona measures – at least symbolically
“Science is not a religion” – Georgia Meloni wants her Corona policy to follow this motto. As one of his first official acts, he cancels almost all corona measures. But a closer look reveals that the steps are primarily symbolic.
I amn Italy’s new right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has been in power for a week. After his new government settled itself in the first few days, he has now started to get involved in politics: at the top of the agenda is the corona policy, which Maloney promised to relax during the election campaign.
In his opening speech to parliament last week, Meloni said of the coronavirus policy: “Of course we recognize the value of science, but we don’t confuse it with religion.” On Monday evening, he promised to implement the Corona policy. Must be non-ideological.
Accordingly, his cabinet decided on Monday afternoon to cancel the obligation to vaccinate healthcare workers and allow workers who were previously not allowed to work because they were not vaccinated to return to work. In addition, fines for those over 50 who violate mandatory vaccination will be suspended and national Covid statistics will no longer be reported daily, but only weekly.
Static, but identity politics
Meloni’s easing of the corona policy as one of his first official acts was logical: before the election, he had always railed against the opposition against rules he felt were too strict. On closer inspection, however, it becomes clear that Monday’s decisions were primarily identity politics and not major cuts.
The vaccination requirement for employees in the healthcare industry will expire on December 31, 2022, in two months. Maloney’s government brought their abolition forward. As of Tuesday, employees working in hospitals, care facilities and nursing homes are no longer required to provide proof of vaccination against the coronavirus to go to work.
With the end of mandatory vaccination, the basis for the job ban for unvaccinated health workers will also disappear, as explained by the new Health Minister, Horacio Schillaci. Accordingly, approximately 3,000 to 4,000 unvaccinated workers who are currently not allowed to work will be reinstated. The government also wants to tackle the shortage of skilled workers in the sector.
Appropriately, Maloney’s government is suspending the collection of fines imposed on anyone over the age of 50 who has not been vaccinated by January 15, 2022. Instead of abolishing the fine altogether, the government is postponing the final decision until mid-2023. Here too more symbolism than big politics – when the fine was first introduced and when it was suspended: the fine was only 100 euros. .
There is also a change in the publication of the current corona numbers: in the future, they will no longer be daily, but only weekly. This too is only a cosmetic change, as Shilasi promised on Monday evening that anyone needing the data will be able to query it between weekly releases.
At one point, Meloni’s easing policy even stalled: His government was previously reported to want to scrap the mask requirement in hospitals and other healthcare facilities — the last places in Italy where it still applies. But that is not happening now, perhaps because the leaders of the regions protested against abolition. Masks are required. On Monday evening, Meloni and Shillaci assured that they did not intend to abolish it.
No long-term strategy
However, it is unclear what strategy the government has put together in the event that the health system comes under pressure again. So far, Meloney has said he does not “under any circumstances” want to repeat the previous government’s corona strategy, relying only on clear information and a sense of responsibility on the part of citizens.
However, the new government actually avoided drastic measures, which contrasted greatly with the previous government’s corona policy. A five-day quarantine requirement for covid positives is in place.
When asked by a journalist whether it could be abolished in the future, Shilasi said that a panel of experts was working on it, but remained vague. Other countries, such as Spain, lifted the mandatory quarantine months ago.
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