MILAN (Reuters) - Human rights group Amnesty International urged Italy to change tough anti-COVID restrictions to avoid discrimination against unvaccinated people.
In a recent decree Mario Draghi's government made vaccination mandatory for everyone over the age of 50 and for use of public transport and a range of other services, one of very few countries to take similar steps, in an attempt to ease pressure on Italian health services and reduce fatalities.
Amnesty International asked for the provision of alternative measures, including the use of masks and COVID-19 testing, to allow the unvaccinated population to continue to go to work and to use public transport "without discrimination", the group said in a statement issued late on Saturday.
Under current rules, which will run until June 15, wearing a mask and having a negative COVID-19 test is not sufficient to access public transportation or, for people over the age of 50, to their workplaces.
Amnesty International Italia, the local chapter of the human rights group, said that mandatory vaccination could be justified but needed to be limited in time and "proportionate" to a legitimate aim of public health protection.
"The government must continue to ensure that the entire population can enjoy its fundamental rights, such as the right to education, work and medial treatment, with particular regard to non-COVID patients who need urgent surgery," it said.
(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)