Vatican City, Jan 13, 2022 / 04:10 am (CNA).
Visitors to the Vatican Museums must show a pass certifying full vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 and wear medical-grade masks under new measures announced on Wednesday.
A decree issued on Jan. 5 by Archbishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, said that every visitor to the museum must present a Super Green Pass and wear an FFP2 mask, the European equivalent of an N95.
The rules, introduced in light of “the worsening of the emergency health situation,” went into effect on Jan. 10 and are due to expire on Feb. 28.
The ordinance, also signed by Sister Raffaella Petrini, secretary general of the Vatican’s governorate, brings the Vatican City State’s norms into line with those of Italy.
The Italian government passed a decree in December requiring citizens to be either vaccinated or show proof of recovery from COVID-19 to visit museums or other tourist sites.
The new restrictions, which came into force in the country this week, ban citizens without a Super Green Pass from entering restaurants, public transportation, gyms, hotels, theaters, and sports events.
The number of visitors to the Vatican Museums fell by 5.6 million from 2019 to 2020 due to nearly five months of closure amid Italy’s COVID-19 lockdowns.
The loss in ticket sales — a major source of revenue for the Holy See — continued into 2021 as the museums were closed on and off for the first half of the year.
All visitors to the museums must undergo a temperature check, wear an FFP2 mask both indoors and outdoors, and maintain a distance of more than three feet from others.
The Jan. 5 decree applies to everyone working in Vatican City State, the sovereign city-state located within the city of Rome.
The ordinance permits only essential work trips and underlines that governorate staff without a Super Green Pass will be considered unjustifiably absent and their pay suspended. If they remain absent, they will face disciplinary action.
The decree says that exemptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin issued a decree on Dec. 23 stating that people seeking to enter the offices of the Roman Curia must provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or evidence of recovery from it.
The decree extends not only to curial officials, but also to “external collaborators” and all other visitors.
Parolin told the National Catholic Register on Jan. 9 that granting an exemption to Vatican employees concerned about the vaccine’s links to cell lines from aborted fetuses “seems not to be justified.”
Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic’s first wave, has recorded 7,971,068 COVID-19 cases and 139,872 related deaths as of Jan. 13, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
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