BRUSSELS — As Italy enforced Europe’s most stringent vaccine requirements on Friday, a patchwork of measures across the rest of the continent reflect those nations’ domestic politics and potential opposition against such measures.
In more than a dozen of the European Union’s 27 countries, some form of a Covid pass is often required for entering indoor public spaces or large events or for long-distance travel as the authorities have tried to nudge more people to be vaccinated and prevent new waves of infection.
In a move similar to Italy’s, Slovenia last month began requiring most employees to present a vaccination certificate, proof of recovery from Covid-19 or a negative coronavirus test result at least once a week. Customers visiting grocery shops, pharmacies and emergency medical services are exempt, but the overall vaccination rate for adults has increased from 45 percent to over 58 percent since the measures were brought in.
In France, which started charging unvaccinated people for Covid-19 tests on Friday, vaccinations are mandatory for health workers, and more than 3,000 who remain unvaccinated have been suspended.
A health pass is also required to sit in restaurants, bars and cafes, to enter cultural venues such as museums, theaters and concert halls, and to attend sports events. And similar measures are in place in Austria, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Portugal, while in Belgium the Brussels region began enforcing a “Covid Safe Ticket” on Friday.
Germany and Greece also require a health pass for hospitality settings.
The requirements have drawn some opposition, including large protests this summer in France
As vaccination rates have risen, other E.U. countries have lifted such mandates. Portugal, where 86 percent of people are fully vaccinated, lifted the requirements for a digital certificate or a negative test to dine in restaurants this month. In Denmark, where 75 percent of people are fully vaccinated, the authorities stopped requiring a Covid pass in nightclubs last month.
The picture is starkly different farther east. Despite rising new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, most Eastern European nations do not require Covid-19 certificates to enter public places.
Most governments in the region almost entirely relaxed their coronavirus restrictions this summer, and there is little expectation that they will introduce new measures amid fears of a backlash from a frustrated public.
“I don’t see governments in Eastern Europe enforcing vaccine incentives or requirements,” said Vessela Tcherneva, the deputy director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “It would be too politically sensitive.”
An exception is Slovenia, where the authorities said a health pass was the only way to “keep life normal.”
“The only other alternative,” Health Minister Janez Poklukar told reporters last week, “was a full lockdown, which none of us can imagine anymore, which none of us want and which we as a society cannot afford anymore.”