The attitude of the new Italian government towards COVID-19 had been under scrutiny since Giorgia Meloni took office. Italy was hit very hard by the pandemic in the early months and had enforced an extensive set of health restrictions. Now, the newly appointed health minister, Orazio Schillaci, has just announced the reinstatement of previously suspended unvaccinated health workers.
About 3,400 Italian doctors had been banned from practising for non-compliance with the anti-COVID vaccination requirements, or about 0.7% of the 472,891 doctors officially registered with the Federation of Medical Associations (FNOMCeO). The suspension was supposed to be effective until December 31st, but shortages of medical and hospital staff have forced the health minister to move up the timetable.
Health Minister Schillaci announced in a note dated October, 27th, that “six months after the suspension of the state of emergency and taking into account the evolution of the COVID-19 infection,” he considers it “appropriate to initiate a gradual return to normality of activities and conduct, inspired by criteria of responsibility and respect for the regulations in force.” He justified his decision by the need to make up for the backlog in the treatment of many diseases—including cancer prevention, screening, and treatment—which had greatly suffered from a lack of staff during the last years.
Filippo Anelli, president of the FNOMCeO, supports the reinstatement: “The reasoning of Health Minister Orazio Schillaci is common sense and wisdom,” he said.
Other measures taken by the Meloni government accompany this decision and mark the will of public authorities to turn the page on COVID: as of November 1st, the obligation to wear masks in hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic centres will be over. The daily COVID newsletter will also go out of business.
The new prime minister sees the cancellation of COVID policies as a political act. Meloni was strongly critical of the restrictions taken by the Draghi government during the pandemic, especially in terms of their infringement on personal freedoms. “Italy has adopted the most restrictive measures in the West, severely limiting the fundamental freedoms of individuals and economic activities, but despite this, it is among the states that have recorded the worst data in terms of mortality and contagions. Something has certainly gone wrong and, therefore, I want to say right now that we will in no way reproduce this model,” Meloni stressed.